Selective Muslim Silence





Ms. Klinghoffer is senior associate scholar at the Political Science department at Rutgers University, Camden, and the author of Vietnam, Jews and the Middle East. She is also an HNN blogger. Click here for her blog.

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Where is the sane moderate peace loving Muslim world? Why is its voice so rarely raised in condemnation of Islamist atrocities? It is a question which has been raised in ever increasing urgency since 9/11 and not only by Westerners. A few Muslim commentators have raised it too, but they remained the exception rather than the rule. Last time I raised the issue, it was in the context of a number of cased involving the charge of “insulting Islam,” a charge which led to anti-Coptic riots as well as to the imprisoning a 78-year old Iranian Ayatolla and an Afghani editor of a woman’s magazine.

An Indonesian (and Harvard graduate) editor responded by directing me to an article published in Islamica after the brutal public murder of Theo Van Gogh. It focused not on the disturbing phenomena of Islamic extremism but on the Dutch response to it characterized as “Islamophobia.” Muslims are no more responsible for the murder of Van Gogh it argued than mothers are responsible for Susan Smith drowning her children. Of course, I am not familiar with any organization of mothers encouraging mothers to drown their children, arguing that doing so would assure their place in heaven or supporting the death sentence for people who insult motherhood. I have yet to meet a judge who has sent to prison a person who wrote a book considered critical of mothers.

Leaders of Muslim countries have similarly shirked responsibility for the actions of their extremists. “The Arab world's silence is deafening,” wrote the St. Petersburg Times editors after the recent Iranian president’s declaration that “ Israel must be wiped off the map.” This silence (with the notable exception of the Palestinian Authority) seemed strange even to Muslim analysts. After all, Ahmadinejad’s speech was an attack of Muslim governments which have moved towards accommodation with Israel. So some pundit suggested that "Arab states may be pleased if Iran is further isolated.” If so, they covered it rather well. When the UNSC gathered to condemn this unprecedented attack of one UN member against another, it was Muslim Algeria which not only failed to condemn Iran but made sure that the resolution will “condemn” but not “strongly condemn” that extremist country. Extrapolation from the case of Israel is misleading, some would argue. Perhaps, but Arab states offered similar protection to Syria following the murder of Hariri and remain silent about the mass murder in Darfur.

However, the same Muslim countries, organizations and pundits can be plenty vocal and aggressive when in comes to protecting Islamists from the consequences of their own actions. In fact, they often support their causes. As human rights activist Abu Khwala explains, “fighting infidels until they either convert to Islam or submit to Muslims as 'Dhimmis' is still considered by Islamists to be a religious duty." Hence, any actions undertaken by Muslims towards that end must be vehemently defended with a total disregard of the means used and that is precisely what supposedly non Islamist Muslim leaders do.

Consider the following headline: "Muslim embassies complain over Mohammed caricatures." It all started with editors of Jyllands-Posten, a Danish newspaper hearing reports that artists were reluctant to illustrate a book on Mohammed for fear of Muslim retribution. So, they asked cartoonists to send them drawings of Muhammad. “The cartoons,” they argue, “were a test of whether the threat of Islamic terrorism had limited the freedom of expression in Denmark.” It should be noted that Denmark, unlike Germany, has no laws prescribing free speech. In fact, for years Nazis and Islamists have used Denmark as a safe haven from which to continue to promote their heinous totalitarian ideologies.

Islamists may be happy to exploit Danish freedoms and publish material demeaning to Christians and Jews but what is good for the goose is apparently not good for the gander. The Muslim response came fast and furious. The Danish imam Raed Hlayhel dismissed arguments about free press arguing that "This type of democracy is worthless for Muslims. Muslims will never accept this kind of humiliation. The article has insulted every Muslim in the world." This same Imam shocked Danes when he said in a sermon during Friday prayer, that Danish women's behavior and dress invited rape. In any case, Muslim organizations not only protested vigorously. The cartoonists received death threats which led to the arrest of a 17 year old. Threats to bomb the building led to the positioning of security guards around it.

The affair was not only reminiscent of the Salman Rushdie affair but for the first time, as Danish political science professor Mehdi Mozaffari points out “acts of private individuals, and not the Danish state, could lead to the country falling prey to a terrorist attack.” The Middle East Times reports:

Last week as many as 5,000 Muslims demonstrated in Copenhagen against the paper and the drawings, which depicted Prophet Mohammed in different settings. In one of the drawings he appeared with a turban shaped like a bomb strapped to his head.

Meanwhile, an Islamic group calling itself Glory Brigades in Northern Europe issued threats against Jyllands-Posten and Denmark on the Website www.internet-haganah.us, Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende reported in its online edition.

AFP was unable to find the link and it was unclear whether it was later removed from the site, but Berlingske Tidende said in its report that it showed Copenhagen images with the caption: "The Mujahideen have numerous targets in Denmark. Very soon you will regret this."

Suddenly, the ever silent Muslims states found their tongues. 11 ambassadors including those from a number of Arab countries, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Bosnia-Hercegovina and Indonesia entered the fray not to calm the excesses of their coreligionists or condemn the threats of violence but to complain about the cartoons and Danish Islamophobia! The Turkish ambassador even seconded the Imam’s sentiments, berating the paper for “abusing Islam in the name of democracy, human rights and freedom of expression.” T he ambassadors wrote a letter to Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen notifying him that they were offended by the caricatures, demanding an official apology from the newspaper and asking for a special audience “to express their concern about what they perceive as anti-Muslim and anti-Islam campaigns in the press and certain far-right political circles.“ The Prime Minister turned down the request for a meeting pointing out that he (unlike Arab tyrants whose papers are full of anti-Semitic propaganda) has no control over the press.

At first, the Egyptian Ambassador Mona Omar Attia embarked on a direct political attack against the Prime Minister by telling a Danish news broadcast that the group planned to meet to discuss contacting other parliamentary leaders, some of whom had urged the PM to meet with the ambassadors. Eventully, a decision was reached “to let international Muslim groups take over the cause, allowing groups such as the Organisation of the Islamic Conference to try to influence the prime minister.” “It's out of our hands,” said Egyptian ambassador Attia, “Now it is moving up to the international level. Therefore, we will not try to contact Denmark's political leaders.” One could imagine that “the Arab League will weigh in soon.”

So, here we are: part of the Muslim community is in the thrall of a totalitarian ideology which turns young Muslims into human bombs. Photos of Muslim and non Muslim civilian body parts flying in the middle of markets, mosques, discos and hotels have become routine. Beheadings of Christian and Jewish men and women are no longer surprising. And what do the ever-silent and passive-defensive Muslim countries, Organization of Islamic Conference and the Arab League vociferously condemn? They are condemning the publication of cartoons featuring Muhammad in a Danish paper. The absurdity of this action is only matched by its hypocrisy.



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omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Priorities
The Arabs and the Muslims are engaged in a deadly fight Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan being the the most newsworthy battlefields. Others do exist in Indonesia,Russia, the Balkans, India etc.
It is not a present pressing priority to condemn cofighters even though diferences may exist, and in many cases do, in outlook and ultimate goals.
The present overriding priority is to fight together the ENEMY.
The "Deafening Silence" re Ahmadi Najd by the Arabs in no way equals the Deafening Silence cum daily sustenance rendered daily to Israel by the West for the last 38 years of occupation of Palestinian and Syrian lands nor is the progressive support lent to the USA in Iraq.
It is not, for the Arabs and Moslems, a hypocratic public relations game as exercised by the West re Palestine et all; it is a battle of survival against foreign occupation and foreign domination that demands as united a front as possible.
Kilinghoffer understands priorities in wartime; her grieved disapproval and feigned denunciation is false and is more of the same:PR hypocracy!


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

The war is not against non Muslims.

IT is a defensive war against all those that oppressed and still oppress Moslems by usurping their land ,as in Palestine or are destroying their countries as is the USA in Iraq and Afghanistan.
No other religion matches Islam in its tolerance and respect of other religions as peoples of "The Book".


omar ibrahim baker - 10/19/2007

Rimba...I believe it is childish to judge a Religion and a major human community because of the acts of a group here or a state there!
We never judged Christianity because of the INQUISTION ,the Salvation of South America and Hiroshima/ Nagasaki nor did we judge Judaism for the usurpation of Palestine and the horrendous crimes still commited there , daily, by Jews.
Though
all these crimes,it must be noted ,were and still are the work of
de facto or self proclaimed Christian and Jewish states!
Both religions, Judaism and Christianity, are, according to Islam,Divinely inspired and believers thereof are "People of the Book"!
However I note with interst your total neglect to comment on the huge crimes commited by the West in Palestine,Afghanistan,Iraq et all.
I say by the WEST and not by Christianity and Judaism.
You should be able to see the difference.


Peter Andersen - 2/2/2006

Please bear in mind that this debate in Denmark is not pro or anti islamic - it is about freedom of speech.

In Denmark we have freedom of speech, and pursue that right to its fullest - meaning that it is ok for Islamic organizations to voice their oppinions as openly as everybody else.

If you pair that with a high level of tolerance towards the oppinion of others then you have the Danish situation before the Mohammad drawings.

Now what we see in Denmark is that:
1. Freedom of speech is not acceptable to islamic countries - to such an extend that they actively threaten us with violence through both media and by burning our flag openly.

2. Denmark have been severely misrepresented by Danish citizens (Laban et. al.) when informing the islamic countries about the situation - there has been shown cartoons never published in Denmark plus given accounts of things which has never happened in Denmark.

So - much of this situation is based upon a lie which the islamic countries are most willing to believe, which, to me, is the most frightening of all.

I, as a dane, am proud of our freedom of speech, and the only real cost there is with freedom of speech is that you at times might hear something that you do not wish to hear. Off course we have another freedom in Denmark - the freedom of not listening. Perhaps we should excersise the last one a bit more when it comes to the islamic countries and their death threats towards the danish citizens.


Peter Kovachev - 11/14/2005

Mr. Friedman,

I haven't read Bat Yeor's *Eurabia,* but I have come across a number of her essays. I didn't find them astonishing, as I travel to Europe occasionally, but the interesting thing is that in North America her arguments sound almost outlandish. To most Europeans they are represantative of the reality, one that you can talk about in pubs and cafes among friends, but never publicly. Regarding Islam and Muslims, the rule is "if you can't say anything nice, don't say anything at all."

You might already have come across this latest example of grovelling dhimmitude, but if not, the 2004 report by a high-level EU advisory group
(see www.efah.org/en/policy_development/enlargment/docsenlg/euromed.pdf) says it all. The report was swiftly followed-up by the formation of the Euro-Mediterranean Foundation for the Dialogue of Cultures, which in matter of months gained totalitarian control over education relating to the Arab and Islamic world in the EU; which fights for greater Arab immigration and promotes the inclusion of Muslim nations into the European Union, aiming at an entity called by some the "Mediterranean Union." Charles Martel must be spinning in his grave.

Well, it seems that this plot has been hitting a wall lately. The countries of the "New Europe" are openly hostile to massive Muslim immigration, no matter what the bribes, and especialy in the South, where the experience with the "religion of peace" in the form of the Ottoman Turks is still relatively fresh. While the M.E. Studies departments are a lost cause, the Islamic propaganda is being challenged outside of them. Individual countries like Spain, Holland and Denmark are ignoring the dialogue-and-brotherhood guidelines by bureaucrats and educrats and have tightened their borders. Even the discussions about Israel and the "Palestinians" are beginning to stray from the official Arab League and PLO "narratives." Britain had its wake-up call and it remains to be seen how France assesses its predicament. Something tells me that things in Europe will not be pretty in the future. In any case, I'm out of there and I'm glad for it.


N. Friedman - 11/13/2005

Peter,

Regarding your comment: Where Europe is concerned, the continent signed a number of important agreements with theArab League, as early as 1974, in which to secure oil, Europe agreed to accept large numbers of Muslim immigrants, to protect their cultural and religious identity, to allow for communal self-government and to promote Islamic studies in schools and universities. The results speak for themselves.

You know doubt refer to Bat Ye'or analysis in her book about the Euro-Arab Dialogue. As she explains:

The decisive shift in European policy came as a result of the oil crisis of 1973 when the European Economic Community (EEC), at the initiative of France and the Arab League, established the Euro-Arab Dialogue (EAD). Since then, the EAD has been in the vanguard of engineering a convergence between Europe and the Islamic states of North Africa and the Middle East. The EAD promotes a specific conception of international politics that determines Europe’s relations with the Arab/Muslim world, and with America and Israel. It has also formulated a vision of European history, religion and culture, both past and future. Under the rubric of ‘‘dialogue,’’ the EEC and its Arab League partner created a formidable political and legal superstructure that encompasses the entire Euro-Arab relationship and fostered increased joint Euro-Arab diplomatic initiatives.


Peter Kovachev - 11/13/2005

"Yes, clearly something is awry if radical Islamism was "missed" in the contexts you've named. What do you suppose accounts for that failure? I would imagine some combination of a love of the beauty of a religious tradition among those teaching it" (Amy Carr)

You are correct. Middle Eastern Studies departments in universities and foreign affairs departments in various Western governments are populated by Arabists, scholars and fuinctionaries who romanticise Arabic and Islamic cultures. They focused on the sunier sides and dismissed the looming storm clouds as anomalies. Good intentions are supposed to be admired, but in this case they led expensive and deadly errors.

Where Europe is concerned, the continent signed a number of important agreements with theArab League, as early as 1974, in which to secure oil, Europe agreed to accept large numbers of Muslim immigrants, to protect their cultural and religious identity, to allow for communal self-government and to promote Islamic studies in schools and universities. The results speak for themselves.

"Perhaps where we differ has to do with audience, as well as with how we envision change proceeding. How are the dissident Muslims in extremely repressive contexts proposing we proceed? Not by suggesting their religion is somehow inherently insidious--except for some who have abandoned it." (Ibid.)

I don't know what Muslim dissidents have in mind, but we don't need to ask anyone about how to proceed. The answer is in the duties of the modern democratic state. Of all the rights out there, perhaps the most important one is the right to security. Governments have a duty to ensure that all citizens are equally secure in the pursuit of choices and in their expressions. A combination of special protection for dissidents and tougher enforcement backed with effective legislation would make a big disfference.

"I've not heard of women rabbis within Orthodox Judaism--who are some of them?" (Ibid.)

Toronto has at least two of them and were written up in the papers a few years back. Both are of Orthodox origin and interpret according to Orthodox traditions, although they received Conservative ordinations and their audience is largely Conservative. There are quite a few Modern Orthodox who will accept their opinions due to merit, although they would never accept a Reform or a Conservative rabbi...male or female...simply because many are in effect "ministers," coensellors and bureaucrats and are either ignorant of or hostile to the laws and customs. The main point I was trying to make is that it is largely custom and practice, not religious law, which have the emergence of Orthodox women rabbis in this generation. I suspect that probably in our lifetimes we will change. See www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Judaism/femalerabbi.html on the slow emergence of Orthodox women rabbis.

My question about who will facilitate the communication you speak of still stands, as it is very serious. In a free and secure society there is nothing to inhibit dialogue, other than acts and threats by criminals. In our society the doors are wide open and the dialogue is going on at its own pace. It is only in the Muslim communities where the dialogue is impeded by threats and violence. It is more important to have good policing, good immigration and resettlement policies, and unambiguous laws than to organize what are essentially hug-fests among intellectuals.

"...it is deeply problematic (evil even) to speak of a religion in a way that doesn't acknowledge its internal diversity..." (Ibid.)

All religions and ideologies have internal diversities and even benign elements. So what? The Nazis believed in a good social safety net with universl health coverage, full employment and generous vacations. They were for the family, a secular society, were big on animal rights, vegetarianism, conservation, admiration of nature, sport and healthy living. In our opposition to Nazism we dismissed these benign qualities as inconsequential under the circumstances, rejected dialogue, chose to judge and even hate, and fought a war. I believe that is the proper course to take with enemies, particularly those with totalitarian and violent ideologies and belief systems.

"...and in feeling a sense of superiority about a conviction and a judgment that it is better to speak of religion in the ways I've been suggesting." (Ibid.)

Unless we are compelled through force, we remain in or join a religion or an ideology because we feel it is superior. Not just better for us personally, but superior in some kind of absolute terms. There is the ideal of super-tolerancy and a form of religio-ideological egalitarianism, but the reality is that the only people who are genuinely devoid of any preferences are deeply trouble individuals.

"Does that make me a neocon of some particular theological sort? An apologist for the claim that religious traditions that last are inherently capable of internal critique and reform, even when not all expressions of them are?" (Ibid.)

No, the idea that all religions are capable of reform is an old one and in modern democracies the evidence of that is obvious. But the reason why most religious movements "reformed" is not friendly dialogue and understanding, but their weakening hold on their subjects and their inability to enforce their will. The modern state simply took power away from the religious establishments and all religion can now do is to appeal and implore in a world of bewildering options and competing systems. Can Islam reform? Yes, but but only when it's been "de-fanged" like other religions.

Funny, that we both speak of reform as if it were a natural phenomenon, rather than an ideological construct. But while your aproach may seem as the gentler kind, your notions about what constitutes reform, what is preferable in a religion and what we should encourage and discourage are no less "culturally imperialistic" than mine are.


N. Friedman - 11/10/2005

Robert,

Provide me with a list of wars started by Muslim countries against non-Muslim countries where religion had nothing to do with the war. Again, I am not saying that religion was the only issue in any war but, instead, that religion was nearly always an issue.

Now, you claim that the Muslim doctrine dividing the world is the same as the Christian and Zoroastrian view. I think the matter is more complicated and, in particular, the Christian notion is not tied directly to a moral obligation to make war. Here is the specific Islamic doctrine on spreading the faith, as described by one of the world's foremost (and, in his time, the world's, by far, premier) Islamicists, Ignaz Goldhizer:

In addition to the religious duties imposed upon each individual professing Islam, the collective duty of the "jihad" (= "fighting against infidels") is imposed on the community, as represented by the commander of the faithful. Mohammed claimed for his religion that it was to be the common property of all mankind, just as he himself, who at first appeared as a prophet of the Arabs, ended by proclaiming himself the prophet of a universal religion, the messenger of God to all humanity, or, as tradition has it, "ila al-aḥmar wal-aswad" (to the red and the black). For this reason unbelief must be fought with the force of weapons, in order that "God's word may be raised to the highest place." Through the refusal to accept Islam, idolaters have forfeited their lives. Those "who possess Scriptures" ("ahl al-kitab"), in which category are included Jews, Christians, Magians, and Sabians, may be tolerated on their paying tribute ("jizyah") and recognizing the political supremacy of Islam (sura ix. 29). The state law of Islam has accordingly divided the world into two categories: the territory of Islam ("dar al-Islam") and the territory of war. ("dar al-ḥarb"), i.e., territory against which it is the duty of the commander of the faithful ("amir al-mu'minin") to lead the community in the jihad.

What Christian doctrine is like the above? None that I know of.


Amy Carr - 11/10/2005

Mr. Kovachev,

Yes, clearly something is awry if radical Islamism was "missed" in the contexts you've named. What do you suppose accounts for that failure? I would imagine some combination of a love of the beauty of a religious tradition among those teaching it (and so a tendency to focus on that dimension); a hope that the worst will not come to pass; and in the name and hope of tolerance, a fear of genuine confrontation across religious and cultural divides (I saw the last occur in my hometown in Upper Michigan, a town surrounded by an Ojibwe reservation, the first rez in the country to open a tribal casino; I had many conversations with friends from the tribe who thought--as did I--that the Chicago Tribune portrayed some major abuses by tribal leadership a few years ago as a matter of "civil war" within the tribe but not a conflict that the whole community, white and native, needed to contend with somehow; the way the Tribune article portrayed things, one night sense that the arbitrary arrests and imprisonments by tribal authorities and the firing from tribal jobs were somehow less real, less serious, or off-limits for engagement because they were not occurring within the white community. My friends' point was not that native sovereignty over tribal affairs should be dissolved, but that the white community's relative silence was problematic; how to be an outsider and be part of critique and activism is an interesting and difficult question.)

In any case, I think you misunderstand me if you imagine me to be promoting a travel brochure approach--just as, perhaps, one could be tempted to mischaracterize you as someone promoting a brochure that casts Islam as at heart an extremely repressive faith and that calls upon the international community to speak and intervene accordingly. Would that not be a mischaracterization, given your advocacy for the support of Muslim liberals and dissidents?

Instead of a travel brochure approach, I'd suggest doing something that I more or less attempt to do in my introductory religious studies courses--portray something of the range of perspectives within Islam, including perspectives on jihadi movements and on gender questions. Often I will say that there are two dangers to avoid concerning any religion: attending only to an ideal expression of it (in someone's eyes); and reducing it to its most repressive manifestations. We neither focus exclusively on the repressive features of any religion, nor ignore them; and I invite students to think for themselves about where to draw the lines between religious and cultural bases of practices (or the extent to which such a distinction can be made). To focus on the range of perspectives, and on the bases for normative reflection within a religious tradition, is hardly to promote a glossy feel-good approach; it's to become aware of the possibilities, beauty, dilemmas, and difficulties within whatever religious tradition we are studying.

I think we disagree about the empirical, contemporary picture of Islam, insofar as I simply do not have the sense that all areas of the Islamic world have been taken over by radical Islamism. There is also a difference between conservative Islam and radical Islamism; I see far more of the former than the latter. But that is not to say that I do not see the repressive elements you have named, or that I would advocate failing to speak of them--as Muslims or as non-Muslims. Perhaps where we differ has to do with audience, as well as with how we envision change proceeding. How are the dissident Muslims in extremely repressive contexts proposing we proceed? Not by suggesting their religion is somehow inherently insidious--except for some who have abandoned it.

I've not heard of women rabbis within Orthodox Judaism--who are some of them? But I certainly know women who are rabbis in Conservative Judaism (not to mention the Reform and Reconstructionist forms of Judaism). And yes, evangelical Christianity is diverse, on gender matters and otherwise. It's interesting to me that you seem willing to recognize the potentials for change and debate within these two religious traditions, but not within Islam. (For example: you highlight the Protestant Reformation's introduction of individual interpretation of the Bible, but leave out mention of the ensuing wars and the intense persecution of Anabaptists by radical Reformers by Calvinists and Lutherans; the Protestant Reformation proceeded through far too much bloodshed; there's a reason the Enlightenment followed--would N. Frieman agree with me here?). Couldn't one make a rhetorically powerful case, selecting compelling examples, that contemporary Christianity in America is also quite frightening on the whole--by highlighting the efforts to force the teaaching of intelligent design, to prevent same-sex marriages, even to elect legislative officials who seek a theocratic form of government? I fear I know too many people who look only at these expressions of Christianity.

"If understand you right, you believe that we need less characterization with more communication through narrative with actual people. I would say that this process has been going on already and that it has been of little use. The easiest thing in the world for people to do is to gab about their miseries and to boast about their greatness."

Yes, interpersonal conversation--which hardly need only take the form of some combination of victimization- and idealization-talk. But also a kind of public voice, a public speaking--be it in matters of foreign policy or historical representation--that when speaking of any religious tradition imagines listeners who care deeply about their communities and their families and their faith traditions (even when they are ambivalent about them). How to speak with criticism of particular behaviors, yet also speak with respect for a community's faith traditions? Be it one's own or another? I recognize this kind of speaking when I hear it. That's why when I don't hear it, I want to understand what motivates someone to speak only or primarily in a voice of criticism. (Such charges could be leveled too, I suppose, at those who speak only in voices of criticism of the Bush administration. . .)

"What I want to know is who will be in charge of this process of communication; who will select the reps, who will publicise the presumably important stories, record the narratives, validate it all and pay for the whole thing?"

The process of communication isn't monolithic. Yet the voices of intolerance (be they anti-religious or fundamentalist) always seem so much louder and shriller than the other voices. I do think moderate and progressive members of religious traditions often prefer--as I said in an earlier email--to practice silence and to quietly pursue their vision of things, than to practice public speaking out against expressions of their faith with which they disagree. This happens even when there is not a threat of violence against them.

". . . to speak of Good and Evil, to feel pride and even superiority in their culture and to judge. . ." I suppose I am engaging in something of that sort here, in suggesting that it is deeply problematic (evil even) to speak of a religion in a way that doesn't acknowledge its internal diversity, and in feeling a sense of superiority about a conviction and a judgment that it is better to speak of religion in the ways I've been suggesting. Does that make me a neocon of some particular theological sort? An apologist for the claim that religious traditions that last are inherently capable of internal critique and reform, even when not all expressions of them are?

I fear rigid ideologies of any sort. And learning how to speak to hate and to rigid ideology--discerning the best approach here is an open question for me.


Robert Smith - 11/9/2005

"One of the causes was religion. And, frankly, in Islam, it is unreasonable to assume that a war against infidel has no religious component. And, in fact, the US is, indirectly, mentioned in Islamic theology. The classical Jihad theory, which was, at the time, rather widely accepted, divides the entire world into two parts, the Realm of Islam and the Realm of War. Guess what? The US is in the Realm of War - dar al-harb."

What you seem to be saying is that whenever Muslims are involved in a war against non-Muslims it's automatically a relgious jihad because of general religious instructions on spreading the faith.

This is just as applicable to Christianity (or Zoroastrianism, etc.) which divides the entire world into "Christendom" and "heathens", but I don't consider every war involving Christians against non-Christians to be "religious".


N. Friedman - 11/9/2005

Peter Kovachev,

Wow. An astounding post.


Peter Kovachev - 11/9/2005



Agreed, Mr/Ms Simon, humour wouldn't work without the tension which elements of truth provide.

But in this case I've encountered a different issue. Mr. Smith's pronouncements have become so bizzarre that they are now quite an onto themselves and he has stolem my limelight.


Peter Kovachev - 11/8/2005

Ms. Carr,

Sorry for the hiatus; I was swamped with stuff. You say: "The best way in what context, and for what ends?"

To give a concrete example, foreign affairs departments, governments, the media and Middle Eastern studies faculties in the West somehow missed and failed to respond to the entire revival of radical Islamism which was quite noticable back in the 70s. The whole phenomenon was brushed-off as a temporary glitch and scapegoats were found and accepted as fact. Had they noticed the observable signs, such as internal battles and campaigns of coersion, formation of terrorist groups, the changing nature of religious leadership and their message, funding patterns, media and education and so on, they wouldn't have been as surprised or helpless as they are now.

"What can be lost in characterizing a religion as fundamentally oppressive is an ability to see and to converse with actual members of religious communities—human beings who live within and continue to recreate complex, multi-faceted religious traditions." (Ibid.)

However, as things have developed, the complex and multifaceted traditions you mention are the ones which are currently under tremendeous pressure. The colourful individuals you imagine are being converted to angry automatons through the efforts of madrassas, preachers, laws and the media. The jihadi tradition is, actually, very much a mass movement, with wide popular support. It has in fact replaced other traditions in the West, as the majority of the imams are now Salafists or Wah'habis. Most mosques are not self-supporting...like churches, synagogues, temples and such...but receive money and instruction from abroad, mainly from Wah'habi Saudi Arabia. Under attack are things like architecture, dress and folk customs. Hundreds of architecturally-rich mosques the world over have been destroyed and replaced by plain structures; Muslim women from cultures in which they never had to cover-up are now doing so due to pressure, and all folk-customs or secular trends are under observation. We are witnessing a "Macdonaldization" of Islam at the point of the gun...the knfe or the kerosene can. And this is what can be lost in characterizing a religion as a travel brochure, where the focus is only on pleasantries.

"Talmudic Judaism isn’t especially egalitarian (women may not be ordained as rabbis in Orthodox communities, and were discouraged for centuries from participating in Talmudic study and debate). Evangelical Protestantism hasn’t been especially egalitarian in all of its expressions, either—certainly with respect to gender relations." (Ibid.)

Sorry, I used the older meaning of the term "egalitarian," pertaining to class, rather then gender. I would argue that initially this is the more important step. Having women added as participants to an otherwise elite membership is of little significance historically both to the social structure and to women's status. Istead, mitigation of economic class divisions has revolutionary impact on society, as well as gender roles...as our history amply proves. What I meant is that both Talmudic Judaism and Evangelical Protestantism expect and allow involvement from all classes and have been rejecting or limiting centralized leadership. Jewish males were required by Jewish law to be literate (and as consequence women were too) and Protestant men were expected to read and interpret the Bible. These were revolutionary developments, especially when we contrast them with the norms in Europe, where until the Reformation, literacy was limited to the clergy and the reading of the Bible was prohibited. There is lack of gender-egalitarianism in the Jewish and Protestant cases, but there is also a significant debate and a number of changes. Incidentally, there are Orthodox women rabbis and Evangelical women ministers, however many are not yet accepted by most congregations. Since both Judaism and Evangelical Christianity are decentralised, it's the congregations, not central governing bodies that make decisions.

Regarding your interpretation of "neocon" and "liberal" labels, you are largely correct. I'd like to add that neocons differ from the "paleo-conservatives" on a number of issues. Isolationism is one, where "neocons" are more for an active international involvement, and in having a more liberal approach to labour, gender and sexual orientation issues. You mention a sense of certainty, in contrast to liberals and that is true. Conservatives are more willing to take a position, to speak of Good and Evil, to feel pride and even superiority in their culture and to judge. Extremes of this can be problematic when things spin off to Manicheanism, but on the whole, I think that the certainty tendency is a benefit.

If understand you right, you believe that we need less characterization with more communication through narrative with actual people. I would say that this process has been going on already and that it has been of little use. The easiest thing in the world for people to do is to gab about their miseries and to boast about their greatness. What I want to know is who will be in charge of this process of communication; who will select the reps, who will publicise the presumably important stories, record the narratives, validate it all and pay for the whole thing? Also, what if some characterization isn't synonymous with prejudice, but of observable facts? What if I find nothing in common with the casual antisemitism and conspiracy theorizing? What if we do look about and see that most Muslim governments and societies are in fact gender-segregated, intolerant or violent to other religions, cultures and lifestyles? Who will decide that this information is equal or lower in importance to the trickle from a few brave poets, liberals and mystics?


Rimba Lee - 11/8/2005

Omar, obviously you don't live in a Muslim country. Why don't you try preaching Christianity in Saudi Arabia or Malaysia and see what happens to you. And while you are at it, why don't you tell the three recently beheaded Christian girls in Indonesia that Islam respects them.


Rimba Lee - 11/8/2005

"Finally your charge that Muslim people think of themselves as Muslim before European is a charge that has historically been made against Jews and considering the consequences of Europe’s abysmal racist past such comments are treated with disdain."

Individual Muslims may think of themselves of Europeans first but rest assured their imams and muftis and mullahs are hell bent on getting them to assert their Muslim identity above their European one.


Rimba Lee - 11/8/2005

"Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader, I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, it’s true, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we came here and stole their country. Why should they accept that? "

->Well, they are welcome to make war on israel which they did in 1967. But they should also accept that they lost and should move on. Besides, wouldn't they want Mecca and Medina back if it was under foreign occupation for 1000 years??


Rimba Lee - 11/8/2005

"In my view it is totally pointless to talk of Muslim violence without talking about oil, Israel, dictatorship and globalization as well as religion."

You should try living in a Muslim country. You will be jailed or threatened will jail for daring to criticize Islam. At least in the US you can say whatever you want. YOu can change your religion or be an atheist if you want. Ex-Muslims hide in fear for their lives, even from the government. You will not be allowed to build places of worship. Only mosques allowed.


Rimba Lee - 11/8/2005

Those who think that solving the Israel will make the problems with Islam go away are deluding themselves. Look at Indonesia where they are burning churches and beheading Christians. Look at Thailand where they are beheading monks. Look at India where they are blowing up Hindus. Look at Malaysia where they threaten ex-Muslims with death or jail and deprive people of other religions land to build places of worship.


Rimba Lee - 11/8/2005

omar ibrahim baker: "The Arabs and the Muslims are engaged in a deadly fight Palestine, Iraq, Afghanistan being the the most newsworthy battlefields. Others do exist in Indonesia,Russia, the Balkans, India etc."

Exactly - Muslims will not rest until they have defeated the enemies of Islam - that is all the non-Muslims. If you do not revere Islam - you are an enemy of Islam. Criticize Islam and you will be subjected to threats. In the non-Muslim countries they have freedom to preach Islam and criticize other faiths. Try preaching another religion in Muslim countries or criticize Islam and you will be jailed or hacked to pieces.


Peter Kovachev - 11/7/2005

Mr. Smith,

"A very famous recent case was that of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming. Estimates vary, but probably around 30-50 Americans are killed every year for being gay or trans. And almost all of the killers are Christian. I personally know several people that have been attacked, but not killed, for being gay or trans." (Robert Smith)

You are having a "zactly-like" moment. Don't worry, it'll pass. To speed up the process, consider the the differences between a)homosexuality being illegal and punishable by law, in some cases by amputation or execution and; b)criminal and punishable attacks on homosexuals by individuals?

After dealing with your "zactly-like" episode, you might wish to consider the little problem of strawman arguments, hyperbole and generally

"You're claiming that the Muslim religion is QNIQUELY oppressive to women, gays, and other faiths..." (Ibid)

No, I'm claiming that ISLAMISM (a.k.a., radical, jihadist, Salafi or Wah'habi Islam) is by far the most opressive religion today. Many countries have institutionalized this oppression legislatively, as in sha'aria law, and most Muslim communities in the West appear to be heavily influenced by that creed.


that's not what I'm claiming. First of all, note terms like "Islamism," or "jihadism." They're not made up words; they describe the radical strains of Islam, such as Wah'habism and Salafism. This radical form is Islam has seen a huge upsurge

"...and that oppression is INTRINSIC to Islam. This is how you claim that ALL Islam, even that practiced by tiny minority groups in the West, is completely oppressive and that Muslims are basically mad dogs. I know better." (Ibid.)

As I've said again and again, I'm not interested in what is supposedly intrinsing in whatever religion; behaviour is what counts. The significant and growing Muslim communities in the West, especially in Europe, seem to be unable to acculturate, and if you turn on the news about France, you might agree with me that the criminal elements among them appear to be somewhat large and quite mad.

Other that, all people are nice, all cultures are great, all religions are the same, we all want peace and love, and as Barney says, everyone is special.


N. Friedman - 11/7/2005

Mr. Smith,

Well, in fact, Jabotinski wrote explicitly that the governance would involve power sharing, with alternation of Jew and Arab as prime minister. So, I think you are mistaken. And, quite clearly, the Left wanted co-existence and shared governance. That was always the dream until their people started dying.

You write: So what about the Puritans? They were "oppressed" in Europe and so immigrated to the New World. Did they have a right to kill the natives and take their territory because they felt "oppressed"? // And why did they have to conquer and slaughter Muslims to feel "safe"? Zionists could have fled to the USA or to more hospitable parts of Europe. // Or they could simply have stopped being Jews. Discrimination is a side affect of any outsider philosophy. Look at Communists in the USA.

Let's start with the last one of your remarkable comments. In WWII, Germans thought Jews to be a racial category that conversion to another faith could not reverse. Moreover, Jews have generally considered themselve a "people." That is, there are Jews and there is the religion of Judaism. Many Jews do not believe in Judaism yet still consider themselves Jews. You may count me in that last group.

Now, your comment that Jews might have moved to some other part of Europe is rather mean spirited - assuming you know anything about the fate that became those Jews who took that path or who otherwise lived in Europe.

I am so amazed that I do not know entirely what to say. Did you think before you wrote those words? Perhaps, such Jews should have moved to Germany or France or the Netherlands or Belgium in order to be slaughtered during WWII.

Now, many Jews did move to the US. But, at the time, discrimination was the norm so that was not an automatic place to go - as Jews wanted an end to such discrimination -. And, the US eventually halted Jewish immigration so, in fact, they could not all go to the US. And, even if they could have, they also had the right to move to what is now Israel because the ruler of the land said such was the case. And, in the real world, the rulers decide who gets to immigrate.

Questions for you. Did Jews have the right ask the ruler of the land now called Israel for permission to live there? Did the ruler of the land have the right to grant such permission? And, if the answer is yes: did the Arab side have some obligation to seek accomodation with those who had the permission of the ruler to live among them? Did your so-called "natives" have the right to massacre Jews who bought land and lived, with permission of the ruler of the land, in what is now Israel?

Now, as to your accusations against Puritans, the answer is that such is not a very good analogy. In the case of the local Arabs, it was not their territory. It had never been their territory. There was no such Palestine known to history.

You write: Except that the Zionists didn't peacefully "migrate" into Palestine. They formed an invading army and conquered the territory, sluaghtering or driving out the people who lived there.

That is simply untrue. They had the specific permission of first the Ottoman Empire and then, when the British came to rule, the British Empire to move their. Ordinary people migrated. There was no army of conquest as Jews did not, at the time, have an army. They did not form an army until they were first attacked. And, even then, they had a only militia for a long time thereafter.

You write: Yes, they are. They are trying to capture and hold their "historic homeland"

A homeland the size of New Jersey. That is not what manifest destiny means. And, if it means that, then Britain has a policy of manifest destiny over Wales.

You write: And based on yout reasoning, wasn't this a "fair trade"? The Jews force Muslims out, the Muslims force Jews out. Why do you have a problem with one and not the other?

I consider the matter an exchange and that is the end of the matter. I do not think anything can be done to change what happened. Arabs need to settle their kin, just as Israel has settled Jews from Arab lands.

Regarding foreign aid:

4.5% of GDP is rather miniscule, just as I said - which is why Pearl and Co. wanted Israel to sever its aid. And that is why Dennis Ross noted that the US would lose leverage over Israel if it pushed Israel too hard. So, you have not made any point at all.

And, since Israel has signed agreements to repay most of the money, the actual aid is actually much less than you assert.

Israel also has preferential trade deals with Europe and with India, among other places. In fact, countries do business with Israel because the Israelis provide know-how not widely available. Have you noticed that native Israelis have started winning Nobel prizes in the sciences?

Now, you are correct that the US sides with Israel at the UN. That is what allies do for each other. Were the US to take the Arab side, such would send a message that the US is not a reliable country to be allied with.

Among the interests the US buys from Israel is the same interest the US buys from Turkey. Israel is a powerful country which takes care of its own. In the environment of the Middle East, it is a power which must be reckoned with.


N. Friedman - 11/7/2005

Robert Smith,

I noted various causes. One of the causes was religion. And, frankly, in Islam, it is unreasonable to assume that a war against infidel has no religious component. And, in fact, the US is, indirectly, mentioned in Islamic theology. The classical Jihad theory, which was, at the time, rather widely accepted, divides the entire world into two parts, the Realm of Islam and the Realm of War. Guess what? The US is in the Realm of War - dar al-harb.

Now, was the purpose of the war to conquer the US? No. Was religion as inspiration for the war involved? Yes. Was religion the only thing involved? No.


Rimba Lee - 11/7/2005

"The fact that Christianity has close to 2 billion adherents, Islam is close to 1.5 and Hinduism around 1 billion means to me that there are essential truths in their message, or else humanity (being good in its nature) would reject them. "

Actually, the number is far less than that. Many Muslims are muslims in name only as they would be threatened with death or jail should they renounce Islam. This is the case in Malaysia. Google Ayah Pin or Lina Joy to get a full picture of how Islam co-erces its believers. They may be labelled as Muslim by the government but in their hearts they are not as should not be counted as Muslims but as ex-Muslims who pretend to be Muslims.
Furthermore, where does this 1.5 billion number come from? ME countries are sparsely inhabited. Indonesia, has what maybe 200 million? India 160 million? Muslims love to inflate their numbers to look grand but the reality is far from it.


Rimba Lee - 11/7/2005

"If one wants to suggest that Islam is somehow more prone to violence and less open to self-criticism, what is to be gained by doing so? Or what then is the proper response? Advocating the defection of all "Muslims from their religion? Or justifying a particular kind of military response? Again, it seems to me that to be historically and morally responsible involves attending both to the particulars of religious expression in any time and place, AND to the typology of possible religious expressions that also exist historically."

The word "Love" does not appear in the Quran. The thing about mass defection might happen if Muslims weren't threatened with death or jail upon renounciation of Islam.


Robert Smith - 11/7/2005

"Actually, the way things have been going for them lately, the "militants" major problem right now is unfashionable orange jumpsuits, courtesy of the US, and keeping their big-shot terror plotters from premature dates with those 72 virgins, courtesy of the Israeli Air Force."

Keep acting tough until we eventually deal with the jihadists. Attitudes like yours will guarentee them a much better deal. I don't feel like giving them more power.

"there is no occupation and there are no 1967 "borders." There is an attempt by the IDF to keep the crazies from blowing up its citizens"

You don't have to keep repeating it Mr Kobachev, I get it. "Might makes right", "The ends justify the means", "Arab babies are evil", etc.

"the "Green line" is an old armistice line between Israel and Jordan which the Arabs would LIKE to have as a temporary border (they actually want the whole of Israel), but they ain't gonna happen."

Of course not. Israel is going to become a unified majority-Muslim nation. Everybody knows that. I just want to skip to the end.

"in fact if the mass of its enemies world-wide accomplished in a decade what Israel accomplishes on a good week, I'd be amazed."

Considering it's "mass of enemies" includes just about every nation on earth, including Canada, I'd say you're easily amazed.


Rimba Lee - 11/7/2005

"finally I would also like to point out that if one travels to Kuala Lumpur one will find millions of Muslims completely comfortable with a modern multi-ethnic, technologically advanced society who continue to pray, fast and hold to their traditional Islamic values. If you ask any of them how they can possibly reconcile their Islamic and modern identity they would probably look at you as if you have two heads.

best regards,

Firas"

Don't believe this guy. I LIVE in Kuala Lumpur and let me tell you, Islam tolerates you only as an infidel who has to submit to Islam. Criticize Islam and you will be subjected to all manner of threats and what not.

But I do agree you should come to Kuala Lumpur and speak to us yourself. You will find that there are actually a few groups of Muslims.

1. Those who are using it as a political tool to wield power over non-Muslims. In the Malaysian state of Sabah, they gave away Malaysian ID cards to Muslim Filipinos so that the Muslims could win the state elections. So those who have Muslims in their country, beware. Demography is destiny.

2. Those who are troubled Muslims - torn between their easy going south east asian nature and the radical Islamic teachings imported from Arabia going around. They would like to be more open but are discouraged by their peers who say by doing so they are threatening the ummah.

3. Those who are Muslims in name only - they have no choice as to renounce Islam is to invite threats, jail terms, ostracization. In fact many ex-Muslims have had to migrate to Western countries to find a safe haven. During fasting month, many eat in the privacy of their homes because if they are caught eating outside, they could be jailed.

4. Those who continue the rituals of Islam without looking at it critically. To them, Islam is a cultural thing and something that gives them identity.


Rimba Lee - 11/7/2005

Dave Murphy,
Maybe you should live in a Muslims country for a while before you let loose with your pen. Let me share some experiences living in Muslim majority Malaysia.

1. Muslims here cannot convert to another religion. They are automatically tagged as Muslims from birth and if they want to change to another religion they are threatened with death or jail. Google "Lina Joy" an ex-Muslim for details.


3. No land or money is allocated for building of temples or churches but public tax payer money is being used to build mosques.

4. When churches were burned and christians beheaded in neighbouring Indonesia, the government kept quiet.

You guys have no idea what its like till you live with Muslims. They want you to submit and respect Islam even while dis-respecting your religion. If you are not a Muslim, in their eyes you are something to be defeated.


Robert Smith - 11/7/2005

"Or is this another example of hyperbole by the European media?"

I didn't say hyperbole, I said "hysteria". And yeah, it is.

What she's taking about certainly isn't confined to MUSLIMS in France, or even to France. You see the EXACT SAME behavior amongst white Christian kids in the United States. I've personally seen it. Read a bit of the American press for similar horror stories.

This behavior isn't the least bit new, and is probably LESS common than it used to be. The Muslims certainly didn't invent it.


Robert Smith - 11/7/2005

"I hope in your zeal to come off as even-handed you don't experiment by advising your friend to try a walk-about in one of Paris' suburbs without a hijab and a male escort."

I hear this hysterical nonsense all the time in the USA too. Don't walk around in Compton, don't walk around in Richmond, don't walk around in D.C. or you'll get shot, mugged, stabbed, raped, etc. Never happened to me, and all of those places are a lot more dangerous that London, Paris, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Brussels, or Stockholm.

Did you read my other post about Copenhagen?

"Perhaps you can provide recent instances of Christians and Jews jailing, amputating or executing gays?"

A very famous recent case was that of Matthew Shepard in Laramie, Wyoming. Estimates vary, but probably around 30-50 Americans are killed every year for being gay or trans. And almost all of the killers are Christian. I personally know several people that have been attacked, but not killed, for being gay or trans. But you probably think that gay or trans Americans are well-treated in Crawford, Texas or Salt Lake City, Utah.

"Obviously your political stance is far more important to you than the suffering of millions of women, dissidents, "heretics," "deviants" and non-Muslims."

And the above describes the situation in Northern Europe? That's the place we're talking about, remember?

You're claiming that the Muslim religion is QNIQUELY oppressive to women, gays, and other faiths and that oppression is INTRINSIC to Islam. This is how you claim that ALL Islam, even that practiced by tiny minority groups in the West, is completely oppressive and that Muslims are basically mad dogs. I know better.

You're living in a different reality if you think Stockholm is "Saudi Arabia-lite".


Robert Smith - 11/7/2005

"Moreover, the British promised Jews a national home which, as even Balfour noted, did not mean a sovereign nation. So, again, your theory of history and the facts diverge substantially. And, at the time, the hope of Jews was to form a nation with Arabs in which power could and would be shared. Such, you will note, was the view of even right wingers such as Jabotinski."

Which is utter nonsense. The clear goal of Zionists was to create a nation SPECIFICALLY were Jews ran everything and Jews were the majority. The entire notion of Zionism is antithetical to power-sharing with other groups. I'll admit that, at least initally, many Zionists were willing to compromise but they mostly wanted atonomy in "Jewish areas" and Muslims would have atonomy in "Arab areas".

"But, let us look at facts as you think they are. Jews, oppressed in Europe, migrate to a place where refugee is available. Or, in simple terms, they acted on the most basic of all human rights, the right to migrate to a place of refuge. To you, that is sinister, a form of colonialsim. To me, they acted within their basic human rights."

So what about the Puritans? They were "oppressed" in Europe and so immigrated to the New World. Did they have a right to kill the natives and take their territory because they felt "oppressed"?

And why did they have to conquer and slaughter Muslims to feel "safe"? Zionists could have fled to the USA or to more hospitable parts of Europe.

Or they could simply have stopped being Jews. Discrimination is a side affect of any outsider philosophy. Look at Communists in the USA.

"In the US, when African Americans migrated to the North from the South, such migration was met with serious objection, especially in neighborhoods where such people tended to move, and there was a substantial amount of violence. Most people thought that the objection to the migration was racist in character, as it was. On your theory, African Americans had no right to migrate North, despite the law made by the government of the US. On my theory, the view taken by local Arabs was essentially racist and xenophobic."

Except that the Zionists didn't peacefully "migrate" into Palestine. They formed an invading army and conquered the territory, sluaghtering or driving out the people who lived there.

Secondly, blacks LITERALLY had no choice. It was either stay in the South as a slave, or flee to the North. So they fled. This situation is hardly comparable with Israel.

"As a result of that racism and xenophobia and egged on by Antisemitic characters like the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, the Arab side, as you said, attacked the Jewish side. The Jewish side defended itself and when the parties could not reconcile - in part because the British were arming and egging an and assisting the Arab side in order to maintain British rule by means of a divide and conquer strategy -, the Jewish side, with the approval of the UN, declared independence and eventually won the war started against them by the Arab side."

Yeah, it was alll the Arab's fault. They SOMEHOW

I'm waithing for the old canard about how mysterious "Muslim leaders" ordered all the Arabs out of Palestine so they could "kill Jews without interference" and the the Jews didn't drive ANYONE out. Heard this before.

"In any event, the Israelis are not engaged in Manifest Destiny"

Yes, they are. They are trying to capture and hold their "historic homeland".

"Or, has it never occured to you to wonder about how things work in the Arab regions?"

It's called "revenge", and the Muslims are certainly into it as much as anyone. Forcing Jews out of their territory was obvious relatiation, which is what they said at the time.

And based on yout reasoning, wasn't this a "fair trade"? The Jews force Muslims out, the Muslims force Jews out. Why do you have a problem with one and not the other?

"Further, Israel is not dependent on the US. A tiny, tiny fraction of Israel's economy is tied to aid intended, most likely, to buy influence for the US in Israel"

The 2004 national budget of Israel is approximately $52 billion. In 2004 Israel recieved about $5.8 billion in foreign aid from the USA, not including military aid, military services, intelligence aid, intelligence services, loan guarentees and covert aid. That's about 11% of the national budget. Israel has GDP of $129 billion (4.5%) and public debt of $135 billion. 40-60% of Israel's exports go to the USA, due mainly to favorable trade agreements with the USA.

And that's just economic. US political support in the UN is the only reason there haven't been sanctions, or even force resolutions against Israel.

(Most of the above came from the World CIA Factbook)

"And that would be against US interests bought in the form of aid to Israel."

What US interests does Israel serve beyond mercenary aid? By that, I primarily mean providing "outsourced" intelligence services. I seriously question the wisdom of outsourcing intelligence AT ALL, even to supposed "allies" like Israel.

The only other thing I can think of is the oblique geopolitical goal of using Israel as a "wedge" to divide the Arabs to get better deals on oil. And since the "special arraignement" with Saudi Arabia, I question why we need this. Backing Israel didn't prevent the formation of OPEC and hasn't helped us in Iraq or Venezuela, our other major oil suppliers.


Robert Smith - 11/7/2005

Claiming that the Koran gives you THE RIGHT to make war and enslave people is a long way from the Koran ORDERING you to make war and enslave people from the United States. I'm pretty sure the USA isn't mentioned in the Koran.

Basically, you're trying to make the case that the Barbary Pirates were pirates FOR Islam, rather than Muslim pirates. I simply see no evidence that the Barbary pirates were engaged in any sort of general religious crusade, and I find the notion that the pirates converted to jihadists the moment the US attacked and the swiched back to being pirates after the war was over pretty silly.

The facts ARE pretty clear on this one. You're the only person I've ever heard claim the Barbary Pirates were religious crusaders.


Ben Roberts - 11/6/2005

Most Western people continues to think about Islam, out of ignorance, as "just another religion." Western people want to believe that all religions espouse common core values that are compatible with democracy.

I think it is high time that people wake up to the fact that Islam is a religion that as understood and practiced by the vast majority of its adherents, promotes violence against non-believers, and is inherently incompatible with democratic values.

The reaction against the cartoons is just another example of this.


E. Simon - 11/5/2005

"Keep 'em coming, Mr. Smith; you're helping me discover the hereto dormant comedian in me."

A good and funny one too, at that. Some may say the truth is stranger than fiction, but I say depending on how widely ignored the presentation, it's even more humorous. Of course, any good comedian will also acknoweldge that there is an undeniable element of truth in anything we instinctively laugh at - or with.


n krishna - 11/5/2005

A woman is like a private part in Islam
A woman is like a private part. When she goes out the devil casts a glance at her" Al-Hadis, trans. Al-Haj Maulana Fazlul Karim, vol. 2, p. 692, from Mishkat al-Masabih, by Waliuddin Abu Abdullah Mahmud Tabrizi Here the devil stands for other muslims who are ready to jump on any women esp in the desert Arab nations where the Islam has come up. Such was the quality of men in Arabia where Mohammed was born. Any way he knew better. Mohammed a married man was dreaming of Aisha when she was just four years old and marries her when she was six and rapes her when she was just nine. Apostle was helpless because of his 30 man libido and got excited even when he saw little girls. Ibn Ishaq: Suhayli, 2.79: In the riwaya of Yunus Ibn Ishaq recorded that the apostle saw (Ummu’l-Fadl hen she was baby crawling before him and said, ‘If she grows up and I am still alive I will marry her.’ (ref.10, p. 311) Muhammad saw Um Habiba the daughter of Abbas while she was fatim (age of nursing) and he said, "If she grows up while I am still alive, I will marry her." (Musnad Ahmad, Number 25636) Twice he dreamt of a little girl, the 6 year old pretty daughter of his best friend Abu. She was wrapped in a silk cloth. He uncovered the silk cloth to see more of her. Bukhari, Volume 7, Book 62, Number 15: And as narrated 'Aisha: Allah's Apostle said (to me), "You have been shown to me twice in (my) dreams. A man was carrying you in a silken cloth and said to me, 'This is your wife.' I uncovered it; and behold, it was you. I said to myself, 'If this dream is from Allah, He will cause it to come true.'"
So, muslim women is kept inside a burqa and they are made to think that she is 100% vagina.What is the subliminal message this woman is sending? The subliminal message is that every square inch of my body is private part, every square inch of it can make you horny. Therefore my entire body is an 'awrat, (lit. pudendum, genital) and I am a sex object from head to toe. People cover their private parts. This woman thinks her entire body is private part. Does this in anyway arouse respect? Only one who thinks with her genital may think so. The women with scarf think they are 96% vagina 4% people. These women have determined that all their bodies, except their faces, are extensions of their genitals, including their heads. Thinking with their genitals they can't distinguish the difference between their hair and their pubic hair. To them both are embarrassing and should be covered. Thinking with their genitals these ambulant vaginas are fighting for the right to be humiliated, beaten and treated as sex objects.
The wives of Prophet Mohammed

The Prophet's wives are listed in four categories:

1. The women whom he married and stayed with till his death in 632.
2. Women that he captured in wars the ones he slept with but never married or they did not want to marry him. His concubines
3. Women he married and divorced after a short time.
4. Women that may or may not have been married to him



In the first category his wives were:

1. Khadijeh, daughter of Khovilid, they married in the year 595 when she was 40 and he was 25 years old. They lived together for 24 years 10 years of it after Mohammed declared himself a messenger from Allah. It is ironic that during these ten years Allah never, told Mohammed to marry another woman. They had four daughters and adopted a son, named Zaid. She died in 619.
2. Soodeh, Daughter of Hamzeh, they married in the year 620 when she was 30 years old and he was 50. This was second marriage for both of them. They both had lost their spause.
3. Ayesh, a six year old child that Allah offered Mohammed in 623 when he was 53 years old. She was his favorite and he died in her arms in 632.
4. Hafzeh, daughter of Omar Ibn Khatab. He married her in 625. She was 18 years old and had lost her husband in the battle of Badr.
5. Omeh Salmeh, Daughter of Almeghireh, they married in 626 when she was 29 years old. Her husband had died in the battle of Ohod.
6. Zeinab, daughter of Khazimeh, he married her in 626 when she was 30 and had lost her first and second husbands in the war of Badr. She died a few months later.
7. Jorieh, daughter of Hares, He married her in 627 and freed her tribe. She was a 20-year old war booty. She was so beautiful that who ever laid an eye on her fall in love with her.
8. Zeinab, daughter of Jahesh, she was his cousin and married to Zeid the Prophet’s adopted son. Mohammed fell in love with this woman and asked Zeid to divorce her and he married her in the year 628. She was 38 years old. Koran 33-37 gives the prophet the right to marry his adopted son’s wife. “When Zaid had accomplished his want of her, we gave her to you as a wife, so that there should be no difficulty for the believers in respect of the wives of their adopted sons, when they have accomplished their want of them; and Allah’s command shall be performed.” What a nice Allah, whenever this man desires a woman Allah just says OK you can have it.
9. Ramleh, Daughter of Abu Sofyan, known as Omeh Habibe, they married in the year 628. She was 38-year-old widow and her husband had left Islam.
10. Safieh, daughter of Hay Ben Khatab was from a Bani Nazir a Jewish tribe. Her husband died in 628 in the battle of Kheibar. Safieh’s husband had refused to tell Mohammed where he had hidden his wealth and was killed under torture. The same night Mohammed took Safieh, the 17-year old beauty to his bed. Later he married her.
11. Meimooneh, daughter of Haress. Mohammed married her in 628 and she was 27 years old.



Mohammed’s concubines

1. Marieh, daughter of Shamoon. A black beauty given as a gift to the Prophet by the king of Egypt.
2. Rayhaneh, daughter taken as a war booty. Mohammed took her to bed after he ordered the killing of her husband in the year 627. She did not agree to be his wife and stayed in his Haram as slave until her death in 632.



Women Mohammed married and divorced quickly.

1. Asma daughter of Neman
2. Ghotileh, Daughter of Ghaice
3. Malaeke Daughter of kaab
4. Bent Jandeb daughter of Damareh
5. Fatima, Daughter of Sahaak
6. Omreh, daughter of Yazid
7. Alyeh, daughter of Zobyan
8. Saba, daughter of Sofyan
9. Nesha daughter of Rafieh
10. Ghazieh, daughter of jaber
11. Fatima, daughter of shoreh
12. Sanaa daughter of Salim
13. Alshanba, daughter of Omar
14. Kholeh, daughter of Alhavhil
15. Shargh daughter of Khalifeh
16. Kolleh daughter of Hakim

In addition there are 7 more women that may or may not have married Mohammed.

1. Habibeh daughter of Sahl
2. Laili daughter of Khatem
3. Omeh Hani daughter of Abi Taleb
4. Dobeh, daughter of Amir
5. Safieh daughter of Beshameh
6. Emareh or Emameh daughter of Hafzeh
7. Omeh Habib daughter of Alabas



N. Friedman - 11/5/2005

Amy,

I am not quite sure what I am accused of reducing. If your point is to be careful about making connections between seemingly similar events, I agree with you. If your point is that Islamic society has no distinguishing characteristics, just as Christian society does, I shall disagree with you.

I was not pointing to scripture. What I was pointing to was the theology, which in Islam, is a discernable thing with some amount of constancy through the ages. Hence, if we were to speak, say, about the Islamic evangelical doctrine - about which I mean the Muslim doctrine to spread Muslim rule under Islamic holy law, by persuasion or war -, such has a particular character which has, by and large, remained relatively unchanged since the 9th Century.

If you ask me to cite scripture, I would say it is irrelevant to understanding the doctrine, unless you are interested in thinking it through as a believing Muslim might. Rather, there are very straight forward explanations of theory from distinguished scholars. Or, you can read what Muslim write about the theory and you will find the very same doctrine.

The treatment of women in Islam, by contrast, is a more complicated thing. To understand that, one must turn to Shari'a (i.e. Islamic law) and to the common law surrounding it although there are some theological elements. And, again, you have something that is discernable and, while not uniform, does have things in common from place to place and over the course of history. Which is to say, there is an Islamic point of view regarding the treatment of women.

Now, regarding the treatment of non-Muslims in the various Muslim regions, Islam has a very specific doctrine. It derives from an interpretation of the Koran but, more importantly, is embedded in Islamic law and the related common law. The doctrine is a rather central thing, theologically speaking, in Islam because it is connected directly to the evangelical doctrine. Which is to say, the presence of non-Muslims in Muslim countries is not by right but by pact of concession, called a dhimma, in which a non-Muslim nation and its non-Muslim inhabitants surrenders their right of self-defense and pay tribute to the Muslim people in exchange for the cessation of Jihad war. With respect to the various conquered nations over time, things varied to some extent from place to place. However, the theological formula, embedded in the holy law as it were, was a background constant which recurrently impacted society. Moreover, that doctine had a decisive impact on, for example, the near extinction of Christianity in what are now basically Muslim regions.

Lastly, if we are speaking about today, you can say rather universally that Muslim countries treat women like they are dirt. Gang rapes are common when women step out of line. Women who defend themselves against rape often find themselves accused of adultery - with rape not being always being a defense to the conduct -. A woman's testimony is nearly universally worthless as, by traditional law and, even where such is no longer part of the law, the testimony of a woman is considered 1/2 the value of the testimony of a man. Now, these things vary slightly from place to place. But, more or less the same phenomena can be found across the Muslim regions.

My main goal is to understand. My understanding could be wrong. I have read enough about the topic that I think I know a good deal about what I am saying.

Now, if you want to speak about Christianity, I think it is inherently hateful toward non-Christians. Which is to say, the religion is nearly the opposite of its own rhetoric on this particular issue.

My concern here is not with Christianity. The topic here is bad behavior by Muslims. That is an important topic on its own merit. Whitewashing it is a bad thing to do.


Amy Carr - 11/4/2005

Mr. Kobachev:

(Some of what I say here I also say above to N. Friedman.)

You write: “It still seems to me that the best way to understand any religious movement is to assess the actions of its majority. All that other means of evaluation can tell us about a given religion is its literature, propaganda or conduct by its elites.”

The best way in what context, and for what ends? It seems more historically accurate to be aware of the diversity of religious expression—all of which is propaganda, is it not, insofar as it promotes a particular set of values or assumptions (about the nature of ultimate reality and its relationship to the world in some particular way)? And isn’t understanding religious literature and the arguments about its uses a key part of understanding scripturally-based religious traditions? And isn’t it as much a mistake to neglect the conduct of a religion’s elites as it is to fail to attend to popular religious movements? Why would it be best to attend only to the actions of a majority? (And in Islam’s case, that would mean not attending to jihadi movements, since most Muslims do not participate in them.) I can understand the concern to highlight what has been neglected (religion as a material practice, for instance), but that shouldn’t necessitate rendering invisible the other facets of religious belief and practice. It seems the only reason to do so would be to construct a selective picture of religion that one is motivated to support for some reason—a selective picture that one could argue has had the greatest effects with respect to some particular measure.

I agree with you that it’s a mistake to equate “true X” with whatever expression of X one happens to uphold. That isn’t to say that members of any religious community shouldn’t (or don’t) debate about how to best express and practice their faith—only that it is, in your words, not an “honest assessment” to argue that something one now finds insidious hasn’t been part of the historical expression of one’s religious community, or can somehow be ignored because it’s not “authentic.” Christians can say that anti-Semitism has no place in authentic Christian expression, and we can mean it, but we still have to name and deal with the legacy of anti-Judaism that’s only now being seriously challenged as a necessary part of the self-definition of Christianity. And how many Christians have broken their silence to publicly protest the actions of Christians who in good conscience have murdered abortion-providing doctors?) Far more repentance and mourning seem called for, on many fronts, in the world’s religious communities. Speaking to or in the name of an ultimate is indeed a most risky venture.

It is good to hear that you feel helpfully labeled a “neocon,” since that is just the sort of human perspective I want to better understand. Tell me if I am right about something: am I right to sense that “neocons” view the world largely in terms of the struggle to gain or retain or extend militarily-secured power, as the basis for material security and freedom of expression? And that “liberals” could be seen as those who unwittingly rely on the protection of state power, protections they take for granted, and lack the courage to think deeply about how and when to support the use of state or military force to confront enemies hardened against them in the name of one ideology or another? So that “neocons” are motivated by an open acknowledgment of the need to think about the place and uses of power (especially state or military power), and liberals appear (by contrast) motivated by a discomfort with even thinking about this matter (some, for example, emphasizing an ideal form of a religion rather than confronting its more troubling manifestations—though obviously many liberals are as uncomfortable with questions of religion as with questions of power)? If so, then it is not surprising that liberals would also see neoconservatives as persons who are vulnerable to the temptation to identify with those military-related powers and seek to extend them and shape them in particular ways—to move beyond noting those powers and thinking with caution about how to frame their limitations and selective use.

I think part of what I am most concerned to bring to articulation in this discussion is this: to suggest that it is vitally important to name and speak about our circumstances in ways that are both accurate and invite deeper and further communication—and the possibility of recognizing our agency as historical actors from within each of our contexts (religious, military, etc.). In this case, we need to speak to the individual and communal subject positions of religious persons in a way that does not render them invisible or static. What can be lost in characterizing a religion as fundamentally oppressive is an ability to see and to converse with actual members of religious communities—human beings who live within and continue to recreate complex, multi-faceted religious traditions. It seems both untruthful and conversation-ending to portray only a religion’s oppressive faces—just as it is untruthful and conversation-avoiding to refuse to name and engage any religious community’s insidious expressions.

A thought I don’t have time to develop or explain: perhaps some of my own concerns would be addressed if conservatives learned to act with an open expression of uncertainty, and liberals grew more determined to ACT amid uncertainty and an appreciation for ambiguity and multiple points of view.

Side notes: Talmudic Judaism isn’t especially egalitarian (women may not be ordained as rabbis in Orthodox communities, and were discouraged for centuries from participating in Talmudic study and debate). Evangelical Protestantism hasn’t been especially egalitarian in all of its expressions, either—certainly with respect to gender relations. Are you thinking more of how neither of these communities has as much of a history of war-waging? (In the latter case, I suppose it also depends on how one relates the roots of evangelical Protestantism to Puritanism or to the Reformation era itself.)

And I have less certainty than you about what will happen in Iraq, except to observe that the people living in that region will have to decide how much to work with or against the many effects of European and US colonization/invasion, as well as how to contend with their religious and ethnic differences.


Amy Carr - 11/4/2005

N. Friedman:

It does seem to me that you’ve a rather reductionistic reading of religious communities and traditions. This strikes me as just as problematic as an idealized reading that characterizes any religion as all about peace and resistance to oppression, which often translates into silence about particular oppressive practices within one’s own community (Religion X’s scriptures promote gender equality, so where that gender equality is absent in Religion X, it somehow does not need to be addressed because it is not really about Religion X, etc.).

In suggesting that we need to focus on the way people are treated and not on what people perceive, why select only the most insidious kinds of treatment to focus upon? And why would one want to ignore the religious bases for either supporting or resisting those insidious treatments? How can the ways people treat one another change if we do otherwise?

Who is the audience for the sort of reading of Islam’s historical reality (past or present) that you are advocating? (We could say the same about Christianity, perhaps—and I would agree that Christianity indeed seems to have a more brutal history than Islam, when the long view is taken.) Is the audience one that needs to think through particular foreign policy worldviews and decisions? Is the audience one that wants to attend selectively to the violent or oppressive historical effects of religion (and if so, why?)?

I think part of what I am most concerned to bring to articulation in this discussion is this: to suggest that it is vitally important to name and speak about our circumstances in ways that are both accurate and invite deeper and further communication—and the possibility of recognizing our agency as historical actors from within each of our contexts (religious, military, etc.). In this case, we need to speak to the individual and communal subject positions of religious persons in a way that does not render them invisible or static. What can be lost in characterizing a religion as fundamentally oppressive is an ability to see and to converse with actual members of religious communities—human beings who live within and continue to recreate complex, multi-faceted religious traditions. It seems both untruthful and conversation-ending to portray only a religion’s oppressive faces—just as it is untruthful and conversation-avoiding to refuse to name and engage any religious community’s insidious expressions.


N. Friedman - 11/4/2005

Mr. Dalrymple,

One, where did you get the crazy idea I support the Iraq war? I do not. I think it is a dumb, dumb idea.

Two, I note that Muslims have claimed that, in fact, they are Muslim before being British or French, etc. I am well aware that such charges are leveled against Jews. But, again, Muslims in Europe not infrequently claim so about Muslims. And, given that European countries are ethnic based countries so that it is difficult for people outside of the ethnic group to consider themselves part of the society, such self-definition is not a big surprise.


James H Dalrymple - 11/4/2005

I take it from the tone of your message you want me to defend my country right or wrong, rah rah. No that’s not for me - nationalism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. In England the pub is a place where a cross section of the population meet to talk about sport, politics, whatever, so to treat what people think in pubs with contempt is to treat what the people of England think with contempt which is to treat democracy in England with contempt. According to polls 80% of people in England are opposed to the war which seems wrong to me because I am yet to meet a person who supports the war.
As for being naïve at least I’m not alone, Name one country other than Israel where a majority of the population supports the war. But of course every one other than you is brainwashed and only you are clever enough to figure out that we are in a never ending death struggle with people with beards. I’m sure you go weak at the knees every time your glorious leader dresses up like a jock fighter or a cowboy and unleashes mayhem on direct instructions from god.
Most of the world never believed the lies that launched the war against Iraq. You insanely clever people spend your time dreaming up outlandish theories about epic battles past and clashes of civilizations, while us naïve people think that if you now, yesterday and again tomorrow, bomb, shoot, torture and kill there will be a reaction. Your solution is to use ever more bombs, more shooting, more torture, more killing – as I said, a race to the bottom. What a tortured existence you live always trying to justify the abuse of power.
I don’t pretend that one side is good and the other evil, of course there are problems, but the vast majority of Muslims living in England do not support terrorism. Corruption in government is unfortunately too prevalent in all countries, which is why politicians must be held accountable when they lie and deceive. The Iraq war has completely destroyed Tony Blair politically and while it will take time to play itself out the massive public anger over the war will have political repercussions.
Finally your charge that Muslim people think of themselves as Muslim before European is a charge that has historically been made against Jews and considering the consequences of Europe’s abysmal racist past such comments are treated with disdain.


Peter Kovachev - 11/3/2005


"Bin Laden isn't a billionare, at one time he was but he's given away most of his personal money." (Robert Smith)

Yup. It all went to a good cause, as we can all see.

"And I like that you weasel-word the Palestinian aid to "per-capita" to hide the fact Palestinians recieve a tiny fraction of the aid Israel gets. Very convienient." (Ibid.)

Sorry, I thought counting butt-cheeks might skew the numbers more than they already are. Perhaps if you can show me a country called "Palestine" now or in the past, I can revise my estimates.

A new howler: The Smith Solutions to Intenational Terrorism:

"1) Realize that the militants major problem with "the West" is the US unilateral support for Israel."

Actually, the way things have been going for them lately, the "militants" major problem right now is unfashionable orange jumpsuits, courtesy of the US, and keeping their big-shot terror plotters from premature dates with those 72 virgins, courtesy of the Israeli Air Force.

"Immeadiately campaign to have the US terminate all foreign aid and support for Israel and support a UN resolution condemning Israel and imposing trade sanctions until the occupation is ended and Isreal returns to the 1967 borders."

That campaign's been laughed-out already. Israel receives mostly loan guarantees which it has been paying back; trade sanctions would hurt the US economy because of the interdependence between the US and Israeli high tech sectors; there is no occupation and there are no 1967 "borders." There is an attempt by the IDF to keep the crazies from blowing up its citizens and the "Green line" is an old armistice line between Israel and Jordan which the Arabs would LIKE to have as a temporary border (they actually want the whole of Israel), but they ain't gonna happen.

"3) Realize that the nest biggest problem the extremists have with "the West" is support for corrupt, kleptocratic, and tyrannical regimes in Muslim countries. So the US should either terminiate all aid and support for these countries, or make such aid and support contingent on meaningful reform."

No, the next biggest problem the extremists have is that the people they are feeding off and blowing up at the same time are getting tired of them and dearly want to swing them off lamp posts. Our biggest problem soon will be to make sure that when that starts to happen, the process proceeds in an orderly fashion.

And the Smith Crystal Ball Utterings:

"But you don't want to do the above because like most Americans you support Isreal (in your case, probably for geopolitical reasons)..."

I'm a Canadian, actually. I support Israel because it's a country that is smart, just, progressive, hardworking, democratic and succesful. It provides us with breathtaking technological developments and life-saving medical treatments...not to mention amazing weapon systems and satelite technology. And all that with a population of only six million or so people. Unfortunately its neighbours leave a lot to be desired...in fact if the mass of its enemies world-wide accomplished in a decade what Israel accomplishes on a good week, I'd be amazed. Fortunately, Israel does have one pleasant neighbour: the Mediterranean.

" ...and want cheap oil from the Middle East and you believe (probably rightly) that supporting corrupt dictators is the best way to do that."

We have cheap oil, oodles of it. Your jalopy is probably running on Canadian oil, as we export more of it to you than the Saudis.

Keep 'em coming, Mr. Smith; you're helping me discover the hereto dormant comedian in me.









J Draper - 11/3/2005

Mr. Smith
The "rape-squads" in Muslim districts outside Paris are quite serious. Did you miss all the headlines over the past couple of years on Samira Bellil's book, entitled Dans l'enfer des tournantes, which became a bestseller throughout France (opening everyones eyes to the despicable violence) - http://www.time.com/time/europe/magazine/2002/1202/crime/bellil.htm and http://books.guardian.co.uk/obituaries/story/0,11617,1303227,00.html. Or is this another example of hyperbole by the European media? But you possess special insight from travels through Europe, eh. Read Bellil's book and find out how the Muslim community treats young girls who try to embrace Western culture by attaining an education.

JD


N. Friedman - 11/3/2005

Amy,

First, the issue is not what people perceive. The issue is how they are treated and why. I note and repeat: oppression and repression of women in Islamic countries is rampant and, in considerable part, such is due to religion.

Second, I am the last person to hold up a candle for Christianity or any other faith. So far as I can see, most of the history of Christians qua Christians has been barbaric, and likely even worse than the Muslims.

Third, my point is not directed to telling Muslims how or what to believe or do. My point is directed toward non-Muslims not fooling ourselves about what large numbers (and not all but, as I said, large numbers) of Muslims actually believe and do and what motivates them and what happens in Muslim countries. That, to me, is important because we shall, unless and until we do so, continue to see equality between the sexes, tolerance and love of peace that does correspond with reality or what believing Muslims think and understand by such terms.

As a Christian, you might consider examining reports issued by Freedom House regarding what is occurring - particularly against Christians - all over the Muslim regions. I trust you know of the massive flight of Christians - really people fleeing out of desperation - due to the widespread oppression and repression.

I am not castigating a faith. I am pointing out the reality of how that faith has advanced and still advances anti-feminist and anti-Christian causes. That is a fact which it is important to understand - not to throw in the face of Muslims (and Christianity certainly is similarly hostile to other faiths, historically speaking and has not always been and, in some cases, still is not for equality between the sexes) but so that we do not fantasize a reality which does not exist.


N. Friedman - 11/3/2005

Mr. Dalrymple,

You write: The video left by one of the bombers specifically mentioned the war in Iraq and the Israel as the causes for his actions.

My recollection is a bit different. See e.g. http://hnn.us/blogs/entries/13838.html and, in addition, my post at http://hnn.us/readcomment.php?id=66397&bheaders=1#66397

The British press tends to highlight anything related to Israel and the US, so I am not surprised that you came to the conclusion to which you came.

Now, I do think that the bombings do have something, in a small sense, to do with Iraq and Israel. But, the assumption you have is that such are sufficient or main reasons rather than partial, incidental reasons.

I note that a more important reason - one that has led to problems all over Europe including in Britain - is that people of Muslim faith often view themselves first and foremost and sometimes exclusively as Muslims and not really as British or French or Swedes. And that means taking on the various causes of interest to many Muslims including hatred of the West and hatred of Israel. And it means taking on the goal of spreading Muslim rule under Islamic law, which is quite clearly also part of the motivation of these people who identify themselves which such cause.

You might consider asking yourself why the bomber did not really consider himself British. You might also ask yourself why in France, where Israel is a dirty word and opposition to the Iraq war is public policy, Jihadi networks planning bombing campaigns against France in Paris have been broken up repeatedly. The same all over Europe. Why has France done wrong with relation to people who claim to share the same ideology as the bombers in London?

Which is to say, I think your theory is naive but fits the temperment of Europeans who are fed a diet of news about Israel, as if such news were local news.

As for what people in pubs in London think, they are right that actions have consequences. European support for Arafat, after it was clear that he was personnally funding the Jihadis to massacre Israelis, made peace less likely and violence against Europe more likely. And, moreover, the blind eye that Europeans (and not just Europeans) give to Jihadi violence against Sudanese Christians and animists (in which 2 million people died) since 1983, to Jihadi violence against India, in which perhaps 90,000 died during the 1990's, to Jihadi violence in Indonesia (e.g. the mass mailing of christmas presents, actually bombs, to little girls), to riots targetting and massacring Coptic Christians in Egypt, to violence, oppression and discrimination against Christians all over the Arab regions as well as in Iran. Maybe the blind eye paid to that is causal and, worse than that, European countries are basically part of a conspiracy of silence on these issues in order to gain lucrative contracts for construction, to sell arms and to sell technology that exposing such violence would undermine. And, of course, then there are the deals to secure oil to Europe in exchange for pushing the Arab League line on Israel. So, in fact, the various governments in Europe actually push these facts toward the background.

Or, of course, we can base our theories on what people in pubs - fed by distorted press reports - think.


Peter Kovachev - 11/3/2005

Ms. Carr,

It still seems to me that the best way to understand any religious movement is to assess the actions of its majority. All that other means of evaluation can tell us about a given religion is its literature, propaganda or conduct by its elites.

Let's turn away from Islam for a moment. If I were to assess Christianity historically, I wouldn't focus on its scriptures, a handful of inspiring theologians or a smattering of peaceful and devout communities. I would have to first consider its militant expansion, the forced conversions of Animists, the far greater body of hate literature against Jews and heretics, the expulsions, the witch-burnings, the Crusades and the wars of religion. Not because I'm hostile, but because these had a far greater impact on Christianity, Christians, non-Christians and the world in general. If I were to assess Christianity today, a Christianity without the backing of secular powers and the resources and operational ability to wage wars and oppress, I would see a movement that is, generally speaking, composed of fairly decent and charitable people.

Which of these is the "true Christianity"? I would say both are authentic representations, whereas a devout Christian mights say only the latter. But I would argue that the devout Christian's position is a theological judgement, a preference or a choice, not an honest assessment. All members of a religion are collectively and individually responsible for its conduct. A Christian theologian writing about the sublime mysteries of his Trinity should not escape responsibility for the pogroms raging on the streets outside. A Buddhist monk trying to shed desire and contemplating Nirvana mustn't forget the suffering of the peasants who have built his lamasery and supply it with food while their children suffer. And so on.

This is why I disagree with you over the importance scriptural traditions. They may enlighten or enrich a select few, but religions and other ideologies appear to dance different tunes. These, I would suggest have more to do with material conditions and the momentum and inertia of culture. Otherwise, from what I can see, only two of the great religions in the world have managed to inter-weave theology and doctrine with personal and communal conduct on a massive, egalitarian scale; Talmudic Judaism, since the first century of the Common Era, and more recently, Evangelical Protestantism. I would suggest that we should probably take a closer look at the workings of these rare examples, rather than try and comprehend theological mysteries and scriptural documents.

While I disagree too with your general view of the roles of colonialism or the intentions and doings of Wester powers...after all, I appear to be "neocon" as someone else helpfully labelled me... I'm impressed by the fact that you are one of the few people out there who asks the obvious question of WHY Iraq HAS to be maintained as a single country. While I can forsee a troubled division, involving masive population transfers on the basis of religion and ethnicity, I'm certain that such a division will in the end prove to be the least violent option.


N. Friedman - 11/3/2005

That is a fair reply.

I am not an optimist. But, I appreciate your comment.


N. Friedman - 11/3/2005

Mr. Smith,

Actually, there was never an Ottoman province of Palestine and never a province that even corresponded with what Europeans call Palestine. The Ottoman empire never perceived the area as a distinct region and, in their manner of thinking, the term "Palestine" was a Christian term used for Christian reasons. To most observers, the modern notion of a distinct Palestine, however, owes itself to Jews, not to Arabs and not to Turks.

So, from the start, your notions are way off base.

Moreover, the British promised Jews a national home which, as even Balfour noted, did not mean a sovereign nation. So, again, your theory of history and the facts diverge substantially. And, at the time, the hope of Jews was to form a nation with Arabs in which power could and would be shared. Such, you will note, was the view of even right wingers such as Jabotinski.

But, let us look at facts as you think they are. Jews, oppressed in Europe, migrate to a place where refugee is available. Or, in simple terms, they acted on the most basic of all human rights, the right to migrate to a place of refuge. To you, that is sinister, a form of colonialsim. To me, they acted within their basic human rights.

Now, the theory you have is that Jews should have asked persmission to migrate, not from the rulers of the land as, in fact, they did (i.e. first from the Ottoman Empire and then from the Brittish Empire), but from local subjects of those rulers.

The world, however, does not work your way. The ruler, not the ruled, makes rules which determine who can live where. And, in the Ottoman Empire that was especially the case as the Ottoman Empire commonly moved populations from place to place in order to deal with security and with refugee problems. In this I mean entire populations were not uncommonly moved from one place and settled in a remote place. And, you will note, one common place where the Ottoman Empire moved people was to what Europeans like to call Palestine. In particular, during the upheavals in the Ottoman Europe (e.g. in the Balkans) during the 19th Century, Muslims were resettled in large numbers in what you call Palestine and all along the coast up to and into Asia Minor. Permission from the local population was not sought, you can be sure of that.

In the US, when African Americans migrated to the North from the South, such migration was met with serious objection, especially in neighborhoods where such people tended to move, and there was a substantial amount of violence. Most people thought that the objection to the migration was racist in character, as it was. On your theory, African Americans had no right to migrate North, despite the law made by the government of the US. On my theory, the view taken by local Arabs was essentially racist and xenophobic.

As a result of that racism and xenophobia and egged on by Antisemitic characters like the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, the Arab side, as you said, attacked the Jewish side. The Jewish side defended itself and when the parties could not reconcile - in part because the British were arming and egging an and assisting the Arab side in order to maintain British rule by means of a divide and conquer strategy -, the Jewish side, with the approval of the UN, declared independence and eventually won the war started against them by the Arab side.

In any event, the Israelis are not engaged in Manifest Destiny. Israel is the size of New Jersey and, in the context of the Arab regions, is a dot on a big map. The captured territories are probably, all told, smaller in size than Rhode Island. And, unlike your theory of Manifest Destiny, the Israelis sought to cede land to now deceased terrorist Arafat who, rather than preparing his population for what would be necessary to make peace (i.e. a compromise), preached Jihad and total destruction of Israel.

There were, until the wave of Soviet and Ethopian refugees arrived in Israel, three groups of refugees living in Israel along with people who had settled there during the 19th and early 20th Century Europe. In addition to Europeans caught up in or just escaping WWII's horrors, there were refugees from Gaza, Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria (i.e. about 85,000 people made refugees during Israel's war of Independence). Further, there were another 650,000 refugees who came from Arab countries. The Jews from Arab countries made up, in fact, the majority of Israel's population. Even now, they are the largest bloc of people in the country.

Now, since you see the Arabs as nobel savages or something of the sort, it is worth pondering why Jews departed en masse from the Arab countries. I ask you, how were these people treated? Could it have been the gated ghetto-like communities that Jews were locked into at night in places like Marrakesh? Or, was it the pogroms against Jews in places like Iraq (and instigated by Palestinian Arabs including the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem)? Or, was it the fact that Jews were limited to jobs of latrine keeper and the like in places like Yemen and were forced, even to the time of Israel's creation, to pay the jizya tax and to suffer the other disabilities demanded of non-Muslims under Islamic Shari'a law? Or, maybe it was the pogroms that occurred in Egypt? Or, maybe it was that Jews were not given political rights in any of these countries? Maybe, in other words, Jews did not owe the Arabs, including Palestinian Arabs, any great loyalty (just as they owed no loyalty to the Europeans), particularly after Jews were attacked. Or, has it never occured to you to wonder about how things work in the Arab regions? What seems to me is that you have bought into a scapegoat theory put forth by Europeans. But, on my theory, Jews engaged in a heroic fight for their freedom against Arabs, including Palestinian Arabs, who saw no reason that Jews should have any rights.

Further, Israel is not dependent on the US. A tiny, tiny fraction of Israel's economy is tied to aid intended, most likely, to buy influence for the US in Israel - just like aid by Europeans to Palestinians is designed to buy influence in the Arab League -. And, if you follow accusations made against neocons, you will note the accusers point to the proposal called "A Clean Break." Well, if you read the article carefully - which most people have not bothered to do -, Pearl and his buddies advised Israel to cease taking aid from the US. He did that for the reason - and this is clearly the case -that Israel actually does not need the aid as it has a strong economy. And, that is advice from a person believed by his critics to have greater loyalty to Israel than to the US. Likewise, Dennis Ross has written that were the US to push Israel toward a policy it did not want, Israel would sever the ties which our aid buys and rely on its own nuclear deterrent. And that would be against US interests bought in the form of aid to Israel.


Peter Kovachev - 11/3/2005

Mr. Smith,

I too have been in large European cities...in fact lived a fair part of my life in such...and have also had the pleasure of reading European media. So, at least on the basis of experience, I'm not convinced by your attempt to brush-off the problem. Neither do I buy your charge of media sensationalism, but find that exactly the opposite is true; thanks to bureacradic oversights and "journalistic codes" Euro media tends to peddle the same excuses and fibs about the "dangers of generalization" by generalizing about underpriviledged youths or "rare exceptions" just as you do. I hope in your zeal to come off as even-handed you don't experiment by advising your friend to try a walk-about in one of Paris' suburbs without a hijab and a male escort. Better if you test your "smear theory" by donning a kippa (a skull cap) or going in obvious drag and having someone count the number of steps you can make there before meeting your maker.

As for the Muslim violence internationally, perhaps you can name all the countries where Islamists are in charge and where religious minorities enjoy equal rights or a fair degree of safety. I was being generous in my vagueness, but come to think of it, I can't think of any.

And now for the howler: "For example, conservative Muslims treat gays very badly but convervative Christians and Jews treat them JUST as badly." Perhaps you can provide recent instances of Christians and Jews jailing, amputating or executing gays?

Well, it seems that we are not tuned-in to the same reality, and the only argument you can come up against my contention is that I'm somehow biased for not confusing militant Islamism with Seventh Day Adventists. Obviously your political stance is far more important to you than the suffering of millions of women, dissidents, "heretics," "deviants" and non-Muslims. I'm sure too that there is beggar-all I or anyone else can say to convince you that it may be better to be called biased in defense of the rights or lives of others than to score political corretness brownie points.


N. Friedman - 11/3/2005

Mr. Smith,

I do not understand your argument at all. What I said is that religion was among the motivations - in fact, one of the main motivations - on the Muslim side in the dispute that occurred with the US. I think that is a fact. That the US had no religious fight with the Muslim side is, frankly, irrelevant.

Why does a dispute driven in considerable but not exclusive part by religion on one side also have to be a driven by religion on the other side? I think you are way off base in your logic. And I was not suggesting that we were dealing, in the noted dispute, with a clash over religious principles but only that religious was a major motivation on the Muslim side. I think the facts support that view, not yours.


Peter Kovachev - 11/3/2005

Hi, Mr. Mendez, thanks for coming back. Off to work, then.

"You speak about the supposed help that European powers have given to their colonies in Africa and Asia. I still wonder what the heck you are talking about.....(etc., etc.)" (A. Mendez)

A quick history of colonialism: Technologically and economically advanced societies colonize those that are not. Often with the cooperation of the colonized, because they bring real improvements to their lives. In time, after a period of improved standards of life and a period of relative stability, the old indigenous power elites or a new middle class chomp at the bit to get behind the steering wheel. If there is a critical mass of the latter, and if the colonizing power is either weak or helpful and humane, the colonized people can propel themselves ahead and will seek independence. If not, the old tyrants come back and life returns to its "normal" state of unmitigated savagery. For real life examples compare India to Zimbabwe, or the development or decline of former Roman colonies. As for what the heck I'm talking about, imagine the scenario if old colonial nations cut off their meddling or if Western countries cut off aid. Within a month you and Bob Geldoff will know what I'm talking about.

"Speaking of Afghanistan, oh well, don´t let your words betray you. So is now that women cannot fight soviet helicopters cause they are...women..isn´t it? Nor could they fight against the taliban 20 years later..cause they are women isn´t it? " (Ibid.)

This is the comedy interlude, I suppose. For starters learn about past and present tenses. There are no more Soviet helicopters in Afghanistan; there are no more Soviets (or Hmany Hind gunships that haven't been stripped for copper wiring). Ditto for the Taliban. It's not that Afghan women cannot fight, it's that steamy B-movie action-thrillers aside, they didn't. There were no tribes of Afghani Amazons to give the Russians or the Taliban a run for their money; there was only the mujahedeen and later, a coalition of warlords. That's them breaks.

"About the UN and Israel. I didn´t knew violating humans rights, occupying a territory for 40 years and denying palestinians their right to self determination were considered "bogus" reasons." (Ibid.)

Not only bogus, but obscene. Israel took control of Jordanian and Egyptian (not "Palestinian") territories from which old Jewish communities had been ethnically cleansed. There was no talk...nary a hint or a whisper... of "Palestinian self-determination" in the august halls of the UN during the previous 39-year period of Jordanian and Egyptian occupation. Real occupation I mean, the brutal kind, not like the administration under Israel which saw the first ever instances of Palestinian Arab self-government there...or the one and only and very short-lived Pal Arab economic boom. Ever wonder why? Ask those concerned about "Palestinian rights" why they have none in Jordan, where they make up 70% of the population, and in the various Arab countries where 4th generation Pal Arabs still live on the dole of the UN without rights to citizenship. How rotten does the fish have to be before you smell it?

"On the other hand, I see you haven´t actually refuted the fact that the US actually supports corrupt and dictatorial goverments in Middle Asia and the ME (what about the Saudis?). " (Ibid.)

Uh...perhaps because ALL Middle Asia and Middle East governments are corrupt and dictatorial, and because it may be easier to deal with some rather than having to invade and control them to gain access to our life-blood?

"Really? I will love you to make the math...Yes, of course there is corruption in the palestinian authority, and Arafat certainly was a big piece in that corruption. That still is far far from being a justification of your silly assesments." (Ibid.)

The word "corruption" doesn't begin to cover problem. Do you own research and math. Take the billions in direct payments to the PA from the UN, the EU, the West and Arab regimes, add the billions it took to adminster UNRWA, don't forget the expenditures by dozens of NGOs, and put all these against Pal Arab population numbers...even the wildly inflated ones they invent. You don't have to even add the billions in private remittance payments through Western Union or surreptitious "charity" money by Iranians for needy terorists. Say hello to what should be the ME's largest collection of millionaires.

"Finally, I did´t knew that saying someone uses neocon rethoric turns one into an antisemite. That is a very funny inference, but playing the victim card is a very poor strategy." (Ibid.)

You didn't know because I didn't say that. Personally, I don't think that you are an antisemite; only that you unwittingly and carelessly use accusations and charges created by antisemites. While not all, in fact not even a significant proportion of "neocons" are Jews, it has become a fairly well-known antisemitic code word them. So, use the word at your own risk.

Also, I'm not "playing the victim card"...another charming expression developed by antisemites. I'm neither a Jew nor a "fundie," as you put it, and Jews aren't playing at anything when they understandably fear the inexplicable world-wide hatred of their culture, religion and nation state. Other than that, I suppose I should apologize for myself and people like me...whoever we are...for somehow making things "so hard" for people like you, whoever they be. But I won't.


James H Dalrymple - 11/3/2005

Correction - i don't believe some peoples or race of people are more disposed to violence than others. ie. all humans are equal. (thank you America for this world view)


James H Dalrymple - 11/3/2005

Mr Friedman,

Trying to understand Muslim violence is the objective. I am the first to admit that I’m not as academic as you and therefore find it difficult to understand the world in the broad narrative that you put forward. I try to keep things as uncomplicated as possible. Actions speak louder than words. Where is most of the violence happening? Who has most of the weapons? Who does most of the killing? Why?
Most people in London believe the bombs in July were directly linked to the war in Iraq, despite the politicians. The video left by one of the bombers specifically mentioned the war in Iraq and the Israel as the causes for his actions. (please don’t insult me by saying or even thinking that because one listens to a murderers motives one supports the murderer).
I didn’t know whether that Ben Gurion quote was genuine or not (and said so) but I used it because it is very close to how I see the situation and not just me. Most people I know and meet in pubs and at dinner parties see our actions in the middle east, past and present, as having consequences. I think my view of the Middle East is similar to Mr Smith's and most Europeans, that of people trying to throw off the oppression of their own tyrannical regimes (placed and supported by colonizers) and occupiers. I don’t think that we are genuinely trying to help them despite the rhetoric, because actions speak louder than words.
I do not think that some humans are more disposed to violence than others.


Robert Smith - 11/3/2005

I don't know how the fact they claimed that the Koran gave them the right to inslave infidels has any REAL relevance to their motivations. They wanted to enslave people, and this was a rationalization. They preyed primarily on Western shipping because they were better targets. Plus I don't doubt a certain amount of ethnic loyalty. Americans use the claim of "Christianizing" the natives and an excuse for grabbing more territory and taking slaves.

If religion was such a big factor, why wasn't there more rhetoric about the "barbarous heathens" from Jefferson? From what I can tell, there wasn't any. He simply considered the Barbary nations pirates and refused to pay tribute to them.

One-sided rhetoric does not make for a dispute. If there was a religious dispute, what was it? Neither nation wanted to convert the other or alter their religious practice in any way.


Robert Smith - 11/3/2005

"Still, given your examples, I must ask whether you are unaware about the crises many cities in Europe with large unassimilated Muslim populations face. The zones where police are afraid to tread; the rape squads attacking any Muslim (and increasingly non-Muslim) girls not wearing hijabs; the casual wife-beatings; the "honour" killings; the cliterectomies; the rampant and violent antisemitism and homophobia; the routine beatings, threats and even killings of dissenting Muslims and unfriendly non-Muslims."

Well, having been to a number of large cities in Northern Europe I can say that this phenomena is greatly exaggerated by the hysterical European press. In practice, some of the Muslim neighborhoods can be rough primiarily because they're poor. Most of the punk kids raping and robbing people ARE NOT strict Muslims. A much bigger problem is the domestic violence, but nobody's talking about throwing people in torture camps for that.

"Is it also an accident that everywhere in the world where sizable Muslim populations interface with non-Muslim ones, there is a horrid amount of violence, perhaps not always, but in most cases, by Muslims against non-Muslims?"

Except in the cases when they don't, right? And this isn't ever the case with anyone else, either?

You've clearly got a bias against Muslims Mr Kovachev. You often take a criticism that's applicable to many groups and only apply it to Muslims. You tend to take specific examples of bad behavior by Muslims and generalize them. For example, conservative Muslims treat gays very badly but convervative Christians and Jews treat them JUST as badly. And occasionally there's just an outright smear like:

"When Muslim girls in Paris can put on mini skirts and suffer nothing more than a few disapproving words from their stuffy parents, rather than face the stern "discipline" of roaming rape-squads"

I guess my friend missed the rape squads when she was in Paris last year Admittedly, she's not a Muslim. Maybe they have "stealth" against non-Muslims.


Robert Smith - 11/3/2005

Well, I'll respond.

Palestine was an Ottoman province. In WWI Britan and France promised independence to Palestine in exchage for help against the Ottoman Turks. Palestine helped, but Britian and France backed out on the deak turning Palestine into a British protectorate. For political reasons, British leaders had promised the Zionist movement with territory and soverignty in Palestine. The Palestinians objected to this, which resulted in violence.

Fundementally, this is where it all began. The British lied to the Palestinians and promised their nation to foreign colonists. The fact that their ancient ancestors supposedly lived there 2000 years ago was totally irrelevant. The situation is analogous to that between Native Americans and the European settlers who used equally bogus rationales like "Manifest Destiny". Is it any wonder that many Muslims think of Isreal as being totally illegitamate?

But Isreal is a US colony in a very real sense. Isreal's economy is utterly dependent on US foreign aid and loans, political support in the UN, and the US and Israel share a "special relationship" in military and intelligence more than almost any other nation (the US and UK are closer). It can be easy to buy into the idea that Israel is the US' agent in the Muslim world, running around fomenting disaster at their behest. Conspiracy theory? Yes. But lots of Americans think that basically all the Muslim countries are acting together in a grand conspiracy to kill Americans.

Of course, many of those Muslims are conservative (like Ahmadinejad) and it's useful for them to portray the conflict as "conflict of civilizations" to support their particular agendas. Conservative politicans in the West do exactly the same thing for exactly the same reason.


Amy Carr - 11/3/2005

Mr. Kovachev:

You write: "Thus, regardless of what the Koran may say, the interpretations of its scholars and the customs, practices and common beliefs of its adherents are far more important." Important for an adequate reading of history and of present circumstances--yes. But the question of what is possible to affirm on the basis of one's religious tradition's central sites of authority is VERY important if one is to be able to affirm the possibility of any religious tradition practicing internal critique and reform-- particularly with respect to forms of oppression that so clearly violate scriptural norms. To suggest that the only important faces of a religion are the loudest or most oppressive voices (particularly if they are widespread in some regions) only reinforces the perception that the critic is opposed to the very existence of one's religious community. Perhaps I've just heard too many tell me, as a Christian theologian, that the loudest Christian voices in the public sphere, the most repressive or fundamentalist or conservative ones, are the only ones that properly define Christianity. So that it's all very well and good that there are many other faces of Christianity as well, but somehow they don't count as especially important, for aren't they in the minority?--or the very existence of the disliked voices seems for some reason to disparage the whole religious tradition itself as insidious.

I can well imagine that if I were Muslim, I would grow very weary of defending the goodness of a faith that sustains me. Assuming, that is, I lived in a context that gave me space and resources to practice that faith in a life-giving way. I can see the practical wisdom in many of your specific examples, and see the danger of using the banner of multiculturalism and tolerance to in effect avoid conflict and confrontation, especially across the many painful barriers and histories wrought by the legacy of Western colonialism and new forms of imperialism, and by the sheer fact of religious diversity (not to mention secularism). But there is no reason one cannot encourage addressing extremist or oppressive elements while acknowledging the internal diversity of a religious tradition.

I was thinking about this tonight, after attending the end of a 34 hour vigil led by students who read the name of each US soldier killed in Iraq, followed by a minute of silence and the planting of a small flag in what is now a field of flags. In a panel discussion afterwords, with panelists including a military colonel as well as voices of those opposed to the war, I was struck by one thing that was never mentioned: how the very notion of Iraq as a nation of three distinct groups is itself a legacy of colonialism that all parties, insofar as they seek a united Iraq, are consenting to. Whatever way forward any of us go in whatever context we find ourselves, we possess agency (individually and communally) only within the framework of inherited conditions and legacies--and how tempting it is to either idealize or demonize one or another strand of those legacies, either to preserve our privileges, or to justify terrorism against a dehumanized imperial enemy, or to protect ourselves from taking in the morally ambiguous legacy of our most cherished traditions (religious or otherwise). And how unavoidable for us to take responsibility for navigating those legacies, both in how we name them and in how we regenerate or resist them.


Amy Carr - 11/3/2005

I don't think I was trying to meld the approaches so much as suggest we should attend to both. For the reasons I stated earlier.

And while I am not Muslim, I know Muslim women who do not regard themselves as oppressed, and are repeatedly trying to counter the assumption that Islam is ubiquitously oppressive or insidious. I am not sure what is gained by trying to persuade Muslims OR non-Muslims that Islam is monolithically oppressive. If it is not--empirically and in principle--than what is lost by acknowledging this? What exactly does one hope to advocate by denying this? That members of religious communities will abandon their religions as hopelessly patriarchal and oppressive?

As a Christian theologian who is aware of both the internal diversity and far less than glowing history of my own religious tradition, I have always been troubled by both efforts to portray a religion as unvarnished and efforts to portray a religion as hopelessly oppressive. Both seem ahistorical, and I always wonder about the motivation to do either. The reasons for outrage and dismay are many with respect to the status of women in many places in the world, yes; and yes, religious leaders are typically more silent about gender-related violence in their communities than they are about external caricatures of their faith. But again: what does one hope to advocate by suggesting that Islam (or any religion) is either oppressive at its core, or hopelessly oppressive in its actual expressions?


Robert Smith - 11/3/2005

"What about the fact that 20% of the world's population cosumes 86% of its resources? What about 3 billion people living on less than $2 per day?" (Ibid.)

"Such as Bin Laden the billionaire, the jihadists awash in petro-dollars, or the Palestinian Arabs with the greatest per-capita foreign aid and their very own UN agency?"

I have a serious question:

Why do right-wingers feel the need to lie, distort, and obfuscate to make a political point?

Bin Laden isn't a billionare, at one time he was but he's given away most of his personal money. His family is still quite rich.

But is he at all typical? Of course not. The vast majority of Muslim militants, like the vast majority of Muslims, are very poor. You're either lying or deeply confused if you say anger over poverty isn't a major reason for Islamic militancy.

And I like that you weasel-word the Palestinian aid to "per-capita" to hide the fact Palestinians recieve a tiny fraction of the aid Israel gets. Very convienient.

"I'm more interested in the West's ability and resolve to stop terrorism and make the necessary changes to prevent it from recurring."

Clearly not. If this was your only concern you would:

1) Realize that the militants major problem with "the West" is the US unilateral support for Israel.

2) Immeadiately campaign to have the US terminate all foreign aid and support for Israel and support a UN resolution condemning Israel and imposing trade sanctions until the occupation is ended and Isreal returns to the 1967 borders.

3) Realize that the nest biggest problem the extremists have with "the West" is support for corrupt, kleptocratic, and tyrannical regimes in Muslim countries. So the US should either terminiate all aid and support for these countries, or make such aid and support contingent on meaningful reform.

But you don't want to do the above because like most Americans you support Isreal (in your case, probably for geopolitical reasons) and want cheap oil from the Middle East and you believe (probably rightly) that supporting corrupt dictators is the best way to do that.

IOW, fundemantally you WANT terrorism. You think that it's a better trade-off than giving up control of the oil spigot. Many people agree with you.


Judith Apter Klinghoffer - 11/3/2005

Because to be Jewish is to be a tough minded, stubborn, stiff necked optimist.


N. Friedman - 11/3/2005

Mr. Smith,

Knowing that all wars have a variety of issues lurking in the background, the question is to understand the various issues lurking behind the Barbary Wars. I note that religion was not quite the minor factor you suggest. While I am not a Christopher Hitchens fan, I note he is correct when he wrote in the New York Times:

When London's protection was withdrawn from the ships of the upstart former American colonies, their crews and cargoes were at the mercy of Muslim raiders who, often incited by the British, captured them with relative ease. (Anyone wanting to protest Jefferson's naval expedition against these slave states would have had to employ the slogan ''No blood for free trade'' or else ''No blood for manumission.'') Lambert is uneasy about comparisons to more recent combats, and wants to insist on the struggle for free navigation, but this leads him into the error of denial. He says religion had little or nothing to do with the matter. That may have been true as far as the United States was concerned but was emphatically not the case with the Ottoman enemy. Barbary leaders, while they were interested in gain, still explicitly claimed that the Koran gave them the right to enslave infidels, and on one occasion they told Jefferson and John Adams this to their faces.

America's Pirate Wars, By Christopher Hitchens, August 21, 2005. Note, in particularly, the last line above quote: "while they were interested in gain, still explicitly claimed that the Koran gave them the right to enslave infidels, and on one occasion they told Jefferson and John Adams this to their faces."

In fact, religion really was an issue in the dispute.


Sergio Alejandro M?ndez - 11/3/2005

Opps. I meant "When Iraq invaded Kuwait" not Iran


Sergio Alejandro M?ndez - 11/3/2005

MR Korshev:

Well, you get an A+ recycling the myths that pollute in the right. And considering the tone of your posts, you shouldn´t be talking about "Zeal".

You speak about the supposed help that European powers have given to their colonies in Africa and Asia. I still wonder what the heck you are talking about. Not only most of those colonial powers (specially France and Britain) ensured that they maintained their influence there after they left, but they have been continiously taking advantage of the internal conflicts of this nations to their convinience (like selling weapons to the countless civil wars there).

Speaking of Afghanistan, oh well, don´t let your words betray you. So is now that women cannot fight soviet helicopters cause they are...women..isn´t it? Nor could they fight against the taliban 20 years later..cause they are women isn´t it? But instead, what the heck, lets support some ugly teocrats and brutal enforcers of patriarchy to replace the regime we don´t like in the region. All in the name of democracy and freedom.

About the UN and Israel. I didn´t knew violating humans rights, occupying a territory for 40 years and denying palestinians their right to self determination were considered "bogus" reasons. Must be cause most of the members of the UN don´t live in the same fantasy world than you do. By the way, you can inform us about how many muslim countries engage on ocupation practizes. Last I recall, when Iraq invaded Iran the UN authorized the use of force against him.

On the other hand, I see you haven´t actually refuted the fact that the US actually supports corrupt and dictatorial goverments in Middle Asia and the ME (what about the Saudis?). And no, I don´t like what Rusia has done in Chechenia...Yet...What has that to do with anything, I wonder?

"No, all Islamist terrorists are rich or well-funded. Given the billions the "Palestinian refugees" have been getting over the years, given all the special status, their own UN agency and hundreds of helpful NGOs, they should have been millionaires. Do the math. Alas, the money seems to have been displaced somewhere. Look in Yassir's old tunic maybe."

Really? I will love you to make the math...Yes, of course there is corruption in the palestinian authority, and Arafat certainly was a big piece in that corruption. That still is far far from being a justification of your silly assesments.

Finally, I did´t knew that saying someone uses neocon rethoric turns one into an antisemite. That is a very funny inference, but playing the victim card is a very poor strategy. Specially cause not all neocons are jews, and sincerly the ones that are represent the jewish community so fine as fundies represents christians or muslims. Your rethoric is the typicall neoconservative nonsense about how the problem in the ME is reduced to a question of "terrorism", which is a very nice excuse for all sort of ugly things (you know, military spending, control of oil reserves, etc...). And yes, I hope that Islams suffers a profound change, but definitevely people like you or the ones controling the White house make it so hard....


Robert Smith - 11/3/2005

I notice you don't mention that the "muslim nation" in question was in fact the Barbary Pirates. The "Barbary Wars" as they were more commonly known were about piracy, not religion. The United States after seperating from Britan did not have a sufficent navy to protect it's merchant ships from piracy, and were forced to pay tribute to the Barbary pirates. Eventually the US built up a sufficent navy, refused to pay tribute, and ended up fighting a war against the Barbary pirates, particularly Tripoli and Morocco.

The Barbary wars were about MONEY, like virtually every war. The Barbary pirates just happened to be (mostly) Muslim and happened to (mostly) prey on Christian ships. I'm sure they may have used religion to rationalize their actions, just as people use religion to rationalize their actions today. At the time, American Christians rationalized murdering and feeding natives to attack dogs.

All over the world right now, Christians are primarily involved in fighting with OTHER CHRISTIANS. Look at South America, Europe, and Africa for a minute. Muslims are primarily fighting OTHER MUSLIMS as well. The primary conflicts in most Muslim countries are ethic and tribal, not religious. The only major exception in Nigeria.

And what's a "significant population" and what's a conflict? If I pointed out nations like England, France, etc. you'd say they didn't have a large enough population. If I pointed out Iran, Turkey, Jordan, Syria,, Egypt, Lybia, etc. none of wich are currently involved in either a domestic or international conflict you'd say they had "internal conflicts".

I've never heard anyone in my entire life, except you, claim that Muslims had anything significant to do with the discovery of the New World. Christians alone get the blame for that one.

Your post is pretty typical of the dehumanizing rhetoric we've been seening from right-wingers (not that you're a right-winger) since the start of recent conflicts with Muslims. According to these guys, most Muslims are brainwashed ultra-fanatical psychotic suicide bomber savages whose only goal in life is to kill and eat American babies. I can remember pretty much the same crap was said about the Vietnamese too.

There is a thinly-veiled racism tinged throughout this post as you propose to "rightously send them back where they came from".

You should stop pretending and just call them "Ali Baba" or "sand niggers". It's a lot more honest.


Peter Kovachev - 11/3/2005

Ms. Carr,

I'm back, with a brighter smile and a considerably lighter wallet. For the benefit of any twisted mind out there who has just "tuned-in" to this discussion, I was at my dentist's earlier in the day.

You say, "If one wants to suggest that Islam is somehow more prone to violence and less open to self-criticism, what is to be gained by doing so? Or what then is the proper response?"

What is to be gained from stating any thesis? Hopefully, an invitation to an antithesis and a promise of a synthesis. Given blue skies and a fair wind, we'll hopefully gain knowledge from all of this "thesing," and only knowledge can lead us to good responses. Does this not go to the heart of your notion that "to be historically and morally responsible involves attending both to the particulars of religious expression in any time and place, AND to the typology of possible religious expressions that also exist historically"?

You then ask whether I think that we should advocate a defection of all Muslims from Islam or a military response, presumably against Islam specifically. Goodness, no; forced conversions can hopefully be left behind forever in Christianity's and Islam's pasts, and ditto for wars of religions.

What I do advocate, though, is something more prosaic: Better protection for members of all religions, including and perhaps even especially Muslims.

To just focus on the situation in the West now, Muslims who want to speak their minds or to convert out of Islam are increasingly worried about their safety. Salman Rushdie and Irshad Manji are not the only ones who have to seek protection; dissident Muslims, gay Muslims and ex-Muslims routinely change their names and hide even from their own families. It's not just prejudice or mockery they fear; it's the kerosene and the match or the blade across the throat.

If we are going to claim that we are tolerant of all religions, then let's put our tolerance and generosity to the real test. Letting people cower under the whip of their own "community leaders" under the pretense of multiculturalism is not the answer. Instead, let's spend the resources to afford ordinary Muslims the kind of protection which will give them the oportunities and freedoms you and I have. This may mean deporting crazed mullahs and imams, as they are starting to do in Europe, cutting off foreign funding for radical mosques and making extraordinary and expensive efforts to protect Muslim dissidents.

How will we know if we are successful? When gay and lesbian Muslims can attend their own mosques without SWAT teams guarding them. When pro-Zionist Muslims, like Sheikh Palazzi, can travel without bodyguards just like any anti-Zionist Jew can. When Muslim girls in Paris can put on mini skirts and suffer nothing more than a few disapproving words from their stuffy parents, rather than face the stern "discipline" of roaming rape-squads. And lest we get carried away, let's not forget the rights of those who wish to lead conservative lives and to promote their beliefs by word without intruding on the freedoms of others.

Unfortunately, the Islamists are well aware of the danger of real toleration and real liberalism, which is why they go into fits of gruesome violence against their own peole and the very societies that try so hard to accommodate them. Clearly, they have little faith in their own faith. And unfortunately, so do we, because we've somehow come to the idiotic conclusion that the highest form of toleration means appeasing the killers and ignoring their victims.


Peter Kovachev - 11/2/2005


Ms. Carr,

Doctrinal texts and theological proclamations have to contend with real-time interpretations, environmental pressures and customs. This is why, for example, while the Bible may explicitly allow slavery, both Rabbinic Judaism and then European Christianity severely limited them and then finally banned them. All religions are syncretistic and all we can do is evaluate them in relation to one another in any given period or locale, or assess them for how they affect us in the here and now. Thus, regardless of what the Koran may say, the interpretations of its scholars and the customs, practices and common beliefs of its adherents are far more important. But I don't think we're far apart on this point as your magnificently worded "possible trajectories" model tells me.

I'm on way to the dentist's, but I'm eager to get back to some of the issues you raise (I'm a sucker for the kind of mind-candies you just threw at me), so...becauuse Icant help myself, I'll quickly respond to one of your arguments:

You say that empirically, there is a corelationship between religion and violence. Well, yes, but as much as we can find an impirical relationship between human limbs and human violence. What I mean is, without being overlycute about it, is that all human societies have what we call religion, or at least some form of a coherent ideology, which is not far from religion functionally, if not nominally. We can also probably agree that humans, at least in their post-hunter/gatherer phase, tend to engage in significantly frequent and intensive violent behaviour. This is why I tend to avoid the religion card out of the political arena, as interesting or relevant as it may be to the historians.

bbl


N. Friedman - 11/2/2005

Amy,

I agree in part with you. Which is to say, I do not see much reason to claim wonders for, in particular, Christianity, especially as it has existed.

On the other hand, properly, you should make a comparison diachronically (i.e. by examining the same cultural or institutional phenomena over the course of time) or you can make a comparison in a synchronic sort of fashion, (that is, by comparing institutions or cultural phenomena at the same time). You seem instead to meld approaches which, as I understand analysis, is really not a basis for a clear analysis. In fact, I think such a comparison is, technically speaking, improper.

In any event, Islam is far more of a closed circle than Christianity, particular at this time. With its fixed dogma well entrenched now for more than a millennia and with a goal of most, if not all, Islamists and, I might add, of ordinary Muslims in the Muslim regions to maintain the entrenched dogma and to be sure - and this is even worse - it is enforced, this is an issue for those who actually care about the rights of people.

I thus find rather strange the effort, by a woman no less, to obsfugate how Islam, as it has existed for a millennia, has basically oppressed and repressed womankind. And, to note: the oppression and repression appears to be based primarily on the fixed dogma, not on a novel interpretation the holy texts.

I might add: if we go by the horrors occurring all over the world, those regions ruled by Muslims are rather near the bottom - or, if you think oppression, represssion and the like are ok, then near the top - of the heap. And, in large measure, the oppression and repression traces to religion - which is not to excuse oppression or repression for any other reason but merely to note a source for such things in the Muslim regions.



Amy Carr - 11/2/2005

Mr. Kovachev:

I am aware of the things that you have described, yes. And I won't repeat all the reasons to recognize a difference between what is sanctioned by the Qur'an (certainly not cliterectomies) and what is nevertheless widespread practice within some Islamic contexts. As I said in a comment above, if we were to look at Christianity from within the Arian controversy, or from within the context of heated Christian debates about the acceptability of slavery (after centuries of accepting it as a practice acceptable to Christians), we could be raising some similar concerns to those raised now concerning Islam. So I'm not sure what to make of your final comments, for the empirical evidence suggests religion and violence are often intertwined in most any religion, AND that every religion contains many possible trajectories, both pacifist or liberally reformist AND sanctioning of violence or oppression.

If one wants to suggest that Islam is somehow more prone to violence and less open to self-criticism, what is to be gained by doing so? Or what then is the proper response? Advocating the defection of all Muslims from their religion? Or justifying a particular kind of military response? Again, it seems to me that to be historically and morally responsible involves attending both to the particulars of religious expression in any time and place, AND to the typology of possible religious expressions that also exist historically.


Amy Carr - 11/2/2005

N. Friedman:

Yes, any religion's traditions of jurisprudence can justify all manner of things. I suppose one of my core concerns is to note not only particular historical patterns, but the range of theological options themselves. If we were to reflect on Christianity out of the context of the Arian controversy of the 4th and 5th centuries, say (other examples could be chosen), we could have a very different picture of what Christianity is all about and how open it is "in principle" (or "as a religion") to diversity of belief or practice. So I'm suggesting we look not only at the empirical practices of Islamic jurisprudence and jihadi movements, but also at the theological options--which clearly leave room for a range of ways of practicing Islam (including those that denounce terrorism and oppression in various forms). There is a basis for hope if we do so--a hope that does not see the only answer being an anti-religious one. It's naive to say that any religion is "not really about" any of its violent manifestations, or to fail to name the particulars of history that you mention; but it's also inaccurate to suggest that any of the world's widespread religions is reducible to any particular empirical trajectory.


N. Friedman - 11/2/2005

Mr. Dalrymple,

Surely you could defend your position rather than commit a logic error (i.e. something rather akin to tu quoque). In any event, nothing you said addresses my argument.

Now, you started the subject I addressed. The least you could do is answer my reply rather than employ a fraudulent quote. Or, is your goal to merely to heap abuse on the Israelis?


Peter Kovachev - 11/2/2005

If facts matter, the quote is a fraud. It's a cobbled-together mishmash from a description Ben Gurion allegedly gave of what he considered to be Arab fantasies.

Ben Gurion would not have considered Palestine an Arab country, as it was an Ottoman province for five centuries; he didn't consider Jews invaders because he knew of continued Jewish presence there; and he knew that the Jews didn't steal anyone's country, because there was no country to steal.

Other than that, the piece is quite informative: People will make up anything to rewrite history.


Peter Kovachev - 11/2/2005


Mr. Mendez,

Well, you get an "A" for zeal, a "B-" for your ability to colate and display most of the current PC myths out there, and and "F" for not having the faintest clue about the subject matter you've sunk your teeth into with such gusto.

Pray do tell, what Afghani women's resistance groups are you speaking of? RAWA? Not to be dismissive of the heroism of some of the women's groups in Afghanistan, but Soviet helicopter gunships were well armed against fundraisers and school teachers.

History, the subject of this website, is a fascinating field, one I advise you to get acquainted with if you want to have more fun here. The European powers and the West in general took responsibility and have been ladling massive amounts of aid to the former colonies. Some did well, others didn't. Barring re-colonization, the little issue of sovereignity prevents the West from going in and cleaning things up a bit. There is also the matter of ex-colonies chaving cozied-up to the USSR or China and taking an awfully long time to discover that they were being bled dry of resources in exchange for hopes and dreams.

You say" "UN the islamic world lapdgog? Ah..cause it condems israel..funny how must of the countries on earth support those resolutions, except, well, Israel and the US." (S.A.Mendez)

Not only because it condemns Israel for mostly bogus reasons, but because it studiously fails to condemn Islamic regimes which routinely engage in mass murder and real occupation and oppression. As for the "most countries" argument, all you are doing is reminding us that an international organization in which over two-thirds of the members are corrupt dictatorships needs to be either severely rehauled or dumped.

"You mean..Pakistan? Like Uzbekistan (where the US actually supports another Hussein style of dictatorial regimen?). Don´t you have any sense of shame at all?" (Ibid.)

My ears are burning; what was I thinking of. The Chechnya model is far preferable.

"Yeah..all muslims are rich like Bin Laden, and Palestinians are billionaires that live at expense of the UN...." (Ibid.)

No, all Islamist terrorists are rich or well-funded. Given the billions the "Palestinian refugees" have been getting over the years, given all the special status, their own UN agency and hundreds of helpful NGOs, they should have been millionaires. Do the math. Alas, the money seems to have been displaced somewhere. Look in Yassir's old tunic maybe.

"Yeah..sure you are going to change islam, when you can´t even see all that is wrong with the west. Keep the blinders, so far west policies have only produced great results (the last being that paradise on earth called Iraq). It´s all about "terrorism" after all, the perfect excuse for the neocons in the US to proceed in their own filfthy plans for world domination." (Ibid.)

Again, I'm not interested in changing Islam. I'm not a theological reformer or a bug-eyed ideologue like you. If the autocratic structure is disrupted and terrorism is starved of funds, and if democracy makes headway...lots of ifs...Islam will accomodate itself to the new realities, as religions tend to do. For someone who is obviously on the Left, you should have more faith in materialistic determinism than in bourgeois Hegelianism. But then, it's hard to hang on to Marxian dreams you don't even know the names of, much less understand, when the specter of the revamped Elders of Zion (a.k.a. your "neocons," nudge-nudge-wink-wink) hovers over your intellectual landscape, as it were.

Please write soon, things have been rather heavy around here and a little levity is always welcome.


Sergio Alejandro M?ndez - 11/2/2005

Mr Korachev:

"Interesting argument, Mr. Ahmad. Perhaps the US should have done the opposite; it should have assisted the Russians in their inept crushing of Afghanistan? Alas, the doctrine of jihad and the Islamist policy of mass murder of non-Muslims and "heretics" predates not only Afghanistan, but the United States itself...and the European settlement of the Americas to boot."

Interesting. So US only alternative to fight russian ocupation was to help the most fanatic and extremist faction that resisted it. I wonder why the US hasn´t helped many of the women resistence groups in Afghanisthan, instead of say, the mujayadins or later the northen Alliance. Is the same idiotic excuse used in Latin America, where the apologists of US supported dictatorships, justified it on the base of "stoping communism". A very silly false dichotomy.

"Oops! I guess they should have been left as colonies, or better still, should have been surrendered to the Arab colonists of Africa? I imagine the slave bazaars of the Gulf States would have been livelier than they are now. Incidentally apart from the now-defunct Marxist factions, guess in which direction the greatest mass murderers in Africa to date face when they pray?"

So European powers have NO RESPONSABILITY for what happened in Africa after they lost their colonies there? I mean, you actually believe the crap you write here?

"The "free democratic world" or the U.N., which was ostensibly in charge? As it was, the U.N., the Islamic world's lapdog, was unfortunately otherwise preoccupied by passing its annual harvest of anti-Israel resolutions."

UN the islamic world lapdgog? Ah..cause it condems israel..funny how must of the countries on earth support those resolutions, except, well, Israel and the US. Big surprise. Must be cause they are "Islam lapdogs". I mean, you really believe the crap`you write here? How many islamic countries have veto power in the security council?

"You mean the ones still under the heel of Russia?"

You mean..Pakistan? Like Uzbekistan (where the US actually supports another Hussein style of dictatorial regimen?). Don´t you have any sense of shame at all?

"Such as Bin Laden the billionaire, the jihadists awash in petro-dollars, or the Palestinian Arabs with the greatest per-capita foreign aid and their very own UN agency?"

Yeah..all muslims are rich like Bin Laden, and Palestinians are billionaires that live at expense of the UN....

"Obviously you didn't comprehend my argument, even though I repeated it twice. As I said, I don't find it useful to be distracted by Islam and its supposed good or evil qualities beyond a dry and passionless operational level. I'm more interested in the West's ability and resolve to stop terrorism and make the necessary changes to prevent it from recurring."

Yeah..sure you are going to change islam, when you can´t even see all that is wrong with the west. Keep the blinders, so far west policies have only produced great results (the last being that paradise on earth called Iraq). It´s all about "terrorism" after all, the perfect excuse for the neocons in the US to proceed in their own filfthy plans for world domination.


James H Dalrymple - 11/2/2005

maybe its not all that complicated. i'm not sure if this quote from David Ben Gurion is genuine but it is informative.

"Why should the Arabs make peace? If I was an Arab leader, I would never make terms with Israel. That is natural: we have taken their country. Sure, God promised it to us, but what does that matter to them? Our God is not theirs. We come from Israel, it’s true, but two thousand years ago, and what is that to them? There has been anti-Semitism, the Nazis, Hitler, Auschwitz, but was that their fault? They only see one thing: we came here and stole their country. Why should they accept that? "


N. Friedman - 11/2/2005

Professor,

What makes you think there is really a solution, as Tom Friedman suggests, to the issues at hand (in your above quoted article)?


As I see things, we are dealing with a religious revival. And, while that would likely be occuring anyway and would lead to much violence, the revival also reacts violently to modernization/Westernization going on as these non-religious phenomena also threaten the religious establishment and their societal privileges and pet causes.

And, we are also seeing what, for example, Fallaci calls a reverse crusade by means of immigration in Europe. And we are seeing an attempt to revive Islam in its pure form, with razzias (a.k.a. terrorism) that was the mark of the early Islamic conquests (i.e. during the first 300 years or so).

And we are seeing groups in the West who find reasons (e.g. secure access to oil, contracts for European companies and protection from terrorism) to make common cause, whether or not intentionally, with the Arabs, as is the case with the European countries. And there are a host of other things going on as well.

I do not think it enough to note that it takes a village, although I think such notion is true. It is just not a sufficient thing. There are strong historical forces at work which will not likely be contained by villages.



Judith Apter Klinghoffer - 11/2/2005

As is clear from an article some of the readers of HNN may remember entitled The Story the Media is missing in the Middle East (http://hnn.us/articles/13056.html) it is clear that I am very supportive of interfaith dialogue and moderate/liberal Muslims. This article was designed to point a finger at Muslim countries, Arab and Muslim organizations and mainstream Muslim media which are committing the crime of silence whenever the attackers are Muslims.
No. I do not believe it is my fault that the last suicide bomber in Iraq is 10 years old. It is the fault of those who sent him and their enablere who are either silent or point an accusatory inger at everyone except those directly responsible.


Peter Kovachev - 11/2/2005

Ms. Carr,

Your thoughts on this subject are well-formulated and there is a lot of value in your general comments about behaviours of religious or ideological groups.

Still, given your examples, I must ask whether you are unaware about the crises many cities in Europe with large unassimilated Muslim populations face. The zones where police are afraid to tread; the rape squads attacking any Muslim (and increasingly non-Muslim) girls not wearing hijabs; the casual wife-beatings; the "honour" killings; the cliterectomies; the rampant and violent antisemitism and homophobia; the routine beatings, threats and even killings of dissenting Muslims and unfriendly non-Muslims.

I also wonder whether you are aware of the fact that a growing number of mosques in Europe and in North America are funded by Saudi money and are controlled by exported imams who openly preach hatred and counsel violence. The background of prominent terrorists and ongoing arrests of plotters should be a clue. Is it also an accident that everywhere in the world where sizable Muslim populations interface with non-Muslim ones, there is a horrid amount of violence, perhaps not always, but in most cases, by Muslims against non-Muslims?

So, while I happen to think that attacking any particular religion is not particularly useful or practical in liberal societies, I cannot at the same time expect people to willingly turn themselves into agnostic idiots and to pretend, sometimes at the risk of life and limb, that Islam is no different from other religions and that the current Muslim "response" is merely "dynamic rallying" no different from anyone elses. To do so would also dishonor those religions and groups which have found peaceful ways of resolving their issues.


N. Friedman - 11/1/2005

Amy,

You write: like the oppression of women in some Islamic cultures (in clear opposition to the Qur'an's teaching, in many cases)

Which teaching of Islam is being violated in the oppression of women? I might add, in this case I am speaking of Islamic jurisprudence as such is the important interpretation of the Koran and ahaditha, not quoting some passage from this or that aya - about which anyone can make things come out a they choose -.

You write: There's nothing unique about Muslims practicing the same psychological dynamic of rallying to defend one's community against perceived (caricatured) attack.

There is nothing unusual in doing just that. The issue, of course, is whether that is going on. Or, is what we are seeing part of a phenomena of religious revival and directed to offense as Ahmadinejad's above quoted (in my previous posted) comment suggests, not defense of community?

You write: NON-Muslims who point out the hypocrisy of selective silence often seem to do so with a voice of urgency that always gives me pause.

You have a good point. However, this is also true of non-Muslims who seek to apologize for what, by any standard we would judge each other by, is pretty barbaric behavior. I might note that historically, self-criticism has not been the great hallmark of Islamic society. Or, at least historians such as Bernard Lewis, among others, have so stated. This is, in part, because, as Dadrian notes, of "The precepts and infallible dogmas of Islam." That, in fact, is a real, not a make believe issue which is a real cause of problems, as is in any other civilization which has such a doctrine. And, as Dadrian notes, "Although Islam is a religious creed, it is also a way of life for its followers, transcending the boundaries of faith to permeate the social and political fabric of a nation." Which is to say, Islam is an absolute totality for all aspects of life and governance (or, in arabic, a deen), not just a religion.

You write: but the sense of urgency in naming Islam's selective silence can incite the kind of fear that seeks to eliminate the reality of another people--by portraying them as uniquely threatening or dangerous.

Maybe not "uniquely threatening or dangerous," but surely there is a very real danger posed by those seeking to spread their rule over us wherein they would force barbaric customs - to them, Muslim rule under Islamic holy law (shari'a) onto everyone on Earth as being devine decree. Which is exactly what the Islamists including the Jihadis among them seek, as has been said now in voluminous repitition by Muslims more so than Westerners. And, many such people have been willing to kill large numbers of people in the cause of sprerading their faith (more than 2 million people and counting since the 1980's).

So, it is not a mistake, if you follow the evidence trail, to worry about what is going on in the Muslim regions. Which is why I advocate careful study of that region's history, culture, religion, and what is occuring, with that background in mind, today.



Amy Carr - 11/1/2005

Two thoughts:

1) The Islamic community can be as vulnerable as any community to tending to want to safeguard its image all else--much as Catholicism has done in the face of the clergy sexual abuse scandal, and much as model minority families (or model families of any sort) do about violence or abuse in their midst. Part of the reason that the clergy sexual abuse scandal is so much more publicly connected to Catholicism than to other Christian or religious groups (despite such abuse happening everywhere) is because of the hierarchical structure of the church, to be sure--which permits bishops to move around abusing priests; the scandal is as much about the bishops' silence and protection and lack of accountability as it is about the priests' behavior itself. But part of the reason also lies in the Catholic culture of holiness and perfection--so that any stained image of a priest must be hidden or guarded against, lest it stain the whole church. In other words, the hunger to preserve an image of one's own group's perfection can lead to silencing or discrediting voices of internal critics. It's always easier to unite around opposition to a clear EXTERNAL criticism, especially when it's a caricature, than to deal with confronting divisive INTERNAL problems--like the oppression of women in some Islamic cultures (in clear opposition to the Qur'an's teaching, in many cases) or the popularity of jihadism. There's nothing unique about Muslims practicing the same psychological dynamic of rallying to defend one's community against perceived (caricatured) attack. Do some communities (or families) have more of a tendency than others to want to uphold their self-image of perfection and avoid the pain of public self-criticism? Perhaps. But the tendency is not unique to any group. And clearly it is not a monolithic tendency within Islam--given the voices of self-criticism that do exist (as cited by Firas Ahmad).

2) NON-Muslims who point out the hypocrisy of selective silence often seem to do so with a voice of urgency that always gives me pause. Sometimes I wonder if what is lurking behind the urgency is an unspoken feeling that Islam is uniquely dangerous among the world's religions (or the world's ideologies, for that matter). Sometimes it's clear that the sense of urgency justifies for some a decisive, focused military response to terrorism (as reflected in Peter Kovachev's comments--though he's also clear that he's interested in responding to jihadi behavior, not in making claims about the nature of Islam). Perhaps what's reflected in the sense of urgency is simply a fear of apocalypse, focused in on the fear that a jihadi group will gain access to a nuclear weapon (a fear that others voice with respect to the superpowers with such weapons). In any event, I often feel there's a tendency in such outcries about Islam's selective silence to implicitly or explicitly demonize Islam, a tendency that is as little productive as a tendency to idealize one's own religion and protect it from external criticism. Name what one sees, yes--and work to understand the history of Islam with more careful attention, as N. Friedman suggests--but the sense of urgency in naming Islam's selective silence can incite the kind of fear that seeks to eliminate the reality of another people--by portraying them as uniquely threatening or dangerous.


Joshua Scholar - 11/1/2005

No one has addressed what strikes me as the main point of that example about the cartoons:

It's one thing to call for the people who insult your religion to be ostrasized, and quite another to support their being tortured and murdered.

Those who made those cartoons were testing the waters after Theo Van Gough was tortured and murdered for his cricism, and all of those Muslim organizations, even those in western countries failed to support the right of people to be free from intimidation, torture and murder.

It's not just a question of freedom of speech it's a question of freedom from violence - and by taking sides against the free speech in this context, western Muslims were showing that they don't have compatible values with western society - they support intimidation, torture and murder over freedom speech.

Anyway that's the issue. Freedom vs. violent suppression. Where do Muslim organizations stand on this?


Peter Kovachev - 11/1/2005


"Would al-Qaeda have even been possible had it not been for the Cold War machinations that took place in Afghanistan?" (Firas Ahmad)

Interesting argument, Mr. Ahmad. Perhaps the US should have done the opposite; it should have assisted the Russians in their inept crushing of Afghanistan? Alas, the doctrine of jihad and the Islamist policy of mass murder of non-Muslims and "heretics" predates not only Afghanistan, but the United States itself...and the European settlement of the Americas to boot.

"What about the failed states in Africa that will in 20 years or so be the next breeding ground for terrorists - whether they be islamist, marxist or nationalist?" (Ibid)

Oops! I guess they should have been left as colonies, or better still, should have been surrendered to the Arab colonists of Africa? I imagine the slave bazaars of the Gulf States would have been livelier than they are now. Incidentally apart from the now-defunct Marxist factions, guess in which direction the greatest mass murderers in Africa to date face when they pray?

"What about the fact that our free democratic world just 10 years ago stood around and watchd as close to 1,000,000 Rwandans were hacked to death - presumptively because itervention as not 'worth it.'" (Ibid.)

The "free democratic world" or the U.N., which was ostensibly in charge? As it was, the U.N., the Islamic world's lapdog, was unfortunately otherwise preoccupied by passing its annual harvest of anti-Israel resolutions.

"What about the excessively oppressive regimes of central asia supported and paid for by oil companies chomping at the bit to make as much money as quickly as possible?" (Ibid.)

You mean the ones still under the heel of Russia?

"What about the fact that 20% of the world's population cosumes 86% of its resources? What about 3 billion people living on less than $2 per day?" (Ibid.)

Such as Bin Laden the billionaire, the jihadists awash in petro-dollars, or the Palestinian Arabs with the greatest per-capita foreign aid and their very own UN agency?

"Do Muslims need to clean house? Absolutely. But as long as you and people like yourself (many of whom occupy important policy positions ) misunderstand this to be a purely "Muslim" problem, the longer we will remain in such a predicament." (Ibid.)

Obviously you didn't comprehend my argument, even though I repeated it twice. As I said, I don't find it useful to be distracted by Islam and its supposed good or evil qualities beyond a dry and passionless operational level. I'm more interested in the West's ability and resolve to stop terrorism and make the necessary changes to prevent it from recurring.

If Islam "cleans house," fine, although the signs are not very promising. If it has a nervous breakdown in the process or collapses as a force in history because of the current conflict, so be it. Unlike the UN, I do believe that terrorism can be defined...and confined. As things are, we're not facing bombs by the under-priviledged and oppressed Tibetans or Egyptian Copts, by Marxists trying to impose a dictatorship of the proletariat, or Christians mounting another Crusade. For whatever reasons, and these have nothing to do with your excuses, the danger to international safety and order now comes from militant Islam.

Others may perhaps see it as a purely Muslim problem, but I don't. Given the Islamic world's monumental incompetence and its legendary inability to read the signs due to the noise it likes to make, I've now come to see it very much as our problem, as our failure to prevent the re-appearance of jihadism and our weakness in lacking the resolve to cut off its heads and its oxygen. For now at least, these are not philosophical or religious problems, but political and military ones.


N. Friedman - 11/1/2005

Mr. Dalrymple,

CORRECTED VERSION OF THE ABOVE:

How are we to understand violence from Muslims involving Israel or anyplace else without first understanding the views - not merely our own projected views of what Muslims ought believe to be a just cause - of Muslims toward such things? And how can we possibly understand that view without, at some level, understanding Islam and Islamic society as it developed and now exists? It seems to me, absent such a study, the best we can do is project views onto the Palestinians and others and hope we understand them.

I note that Europeans did just that in the 19th Century, hoisting the Tanzimet reforms onto the Ottoman Empire. These reforms, intended to establish greater equality for non-Muslims were met with a radical reaction in that the inequality in Islam is, as it turns out, mandated by religious theology. [Note: among the reactions was the idea, taken up by, for example, Sultan Abdul Hamit of resolving the equality issue by massacring Armenians who would otherwise have been major beneficiaries - hence, the massacres of 1894 - 1896.] Now, you suggest that we understand the Muslim Arab regions without first doing our homework about what forces are at play among Muslims and why. In my view, such is doomed to failure. In particular, you assume that Israel and the popular issues on the table are front and center as well as last on the list.

Such approach gets us nowhere since, despite press reports to the contrary, the views of Palestinian Arabs, Arab and Muslims in general are far different than what is portrayed. And they are far different because the press is lazy, disinterested, prone to adopt causes about which they know very litte, fearful of reporting bad news and, in some instance, likely on the take (directly or indirectly).

So, again, I do not see your point at all. Absent an investigation (a serious investigation) of Arab views and Muslim views more generally and absent an appreciation, based on study, of the differences that exist - just as there are differences we all acknowledge between what Americans tend to believe and what Chinese and Japanese in their homelands tend to believe -, we know nothing at all.

My suggestion to you is that the centrality of Israel in the Muslim regions is little related to what Israel does (and this is not to suggest that such dispute should be allowed to fester if there is a way to resolve the conflict) and much related to goals put forth by Islamists and, before that, pan-Arab political parties. More particularly, the centrality of Israel is important to the goal of their fight to change the heirarchical status of world power, with Islam resuming its place and of their fight to restore privileges previously asserted by Muslims over non-Muslims.

Perhaps my thesis is wrong. One thing I can tell you. There is no possibility of judging the matter without studying Islam, its history and the culture of those who are part of that civilization.

I suggest to you that the Arab Israeli dispute has little to do with the matter, other than as symbolism. As Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stated in his recent speech in which he called for destroying Israel:

We need to examine the true origins of the issue of Palestine: is it a fight between a group of Muslims and non-Jews? Is it a fight between Judaism and other religions? Is it the fight of one country with another country? Is it the fight of one country with the Arab world? Is it a fight over the land of Palestine? I guess the answer to all these questions is ‘no.’

The establishment of the occupying regime of Qods [Jerusalem] was a major move by the world oppressor [the United States] against the Islamic world. The situation has changed in this historical struggle. Sometimes the Muslims have won and moved forward and the world oppressor was forced to withdraw.

Unfortunately, the Islamic world has been withdrawing in the past 300 years. I do not want to examine the reasons for this, but only to review the history. The Islamic world lost its last defenses in the past 100 years and the world oppressor established the occupying regime. Therefore the struggle in Palestine today is the major front of the struggle of the Islamic world with the world oppressor and its fate will decide the destiny of the struggles of the past several hundred years.

The Palestinian nation represents the Islamic nation [Umma] against a system of oppression, and thank God, the Palestinian nation adopted Islamic behavior in an Islamic environment in their struggle and so we have witnessed their progress and success.


Which is to say, the dispute over Israel is not all or even primarily about Israel. Israel is merely a bit player which serves as rallying cry in order that Islam can reverse its losses since the end of the 17th Century and resume its status as world power.

I guess my question to you is: how can we begin to understand Ahmadinejad's speech's meaning in the Islamist movement without examining Islam and its history and culture? I think it is not possible and I think the effort to find "root causes" without first understand the views of those involved is anti-intellectual and anti-historical. And, even worse, what such approach amounts to is an attempt to pursue causes of interest to some in the West without caring one iota about those affected, namely, Israelis, Arabs and Muslims, and what they desire.


N. Friedman - 11/1/2005

Dalrymple,

How are we to understand violence from Muslims involving Israel or anyplace else without first understanding the views - not merely our own projected views of what Muslims ought believe to be a just cause - of Muslims toward such things? And how can we possibly understand that view without, at some level, understanding Islam and Islamic society as it developed and now exists? It seems to me, absent such a study, the best we can do is project views onto the Palestinians and others and hope we understand them.

I note that Europeans did just that in the 19th Century, hoisting the Tanzimet reforms onto the Ottoman Empire. These reforms, intended to establish greater equality for non-Muslims were met with a radical reaction in that the inequality in Islam is, as it turns out, mandated by religious theology. [Note: among the reactions was the idea, taken up by, for example, Sultan Abdul Hamit of resolving the equality issue by massacring Armenians who would otherwise have been major beneficiaries - hence, the massacres of 1894 - 1896.] Now, you suggest that we understand the Muslim Arab regions without first doing our homework about what forces are at play among Muslims and why. In my view, such is doomed to failure. In particular, you assume that Israel and the popular issues on the table are front and center as well as last on the list.

Such approach gets us nowhere since, despite press reports to the contrary, the views of Palestinian Arabs, Arab and Muslims in general are far different than what is portrayed. And they are far different because the press is lazy, disinterested, prone to adopt causes about which they know very litte, fearful of reporting bad news and, in some instance, likely on the take (directly or indirectly).

So, again, I do not see your point at all. Absent an investigation (a serious investigation) of Arab views and Muslim views more generally and absent an appreciation, based on study, of the differences that exist - just as there are differences we all acknowledge between what Americans tend to believe and what Chinese and Japanese in their homelands tend to believe -, we know nothing at all.

My suggestion to you is that the centrality of Israel in the Muslim regions is little related to what Israel does (and this is not to suggest that such dispute should be allowed to fester if there is a way to resolve the conflict) and much related to goals put forth by Islamists and, before that, pan-Arab political parties. More particularly, the centrality of Israel is important to the goal of their fight to change the heirarchical status of world power, with Islam resuming its place and of their fight to restore privileges previously asserted by Muslims over non-Muslims.

Perhaps my thesis is wrong. One thing I can tell you. There is no possibility of judging the matter without studying Islam, its history and the culture of those who are part of that civilization.

I suggest to you that the Arab Israeli dispute has little to do with the matter, other than as symbolism. As Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stated in his recent speech in which he called for destroying Israel:

</b>We need to examine the true origins of the issue of Palestine: is it a fight between a group of Muslims and non-Jews? Is it a fight between Judaism and other religions? Is it the fight of one country with another country? Is it the fight of one country with the Arab world? Is it a fight over the land of Palestine? I guess the answer to all these questions is ‘no.’

The establishment of the occupying regime of Qods [Jerusalem] was a major move by the world oppressor [the United States] against the Islamic world. The situation has changed in this historical struggle. Sometimes the Muslims have won and moved forward and the world oppressor was forced to withdraw.

Unfortunately, the Islamic world has been withdrawing in the past 300 years. I do not want to examine the reasons for this, but only to review the history. The Islamic world lost its last defenses in the past 100 years and the world oppressor established the occupying regime. Therefore the struggle in Palestine today is the major front of the struggle of the Islamic world with the world oppressor and its fate will decide the destiny of the struggles of the past several hundred years.

The Palestinian nation represents the Islamic nation [Umma] against a system of oppression, and thank God, the Palestinian nation adopted Islamic behavior in an Islamic environment in their struggle and so we have witnessed their progress and success.</b>

Which is to say, the dispute over Israel is not all or even primarily about Israel. Israel is merely a bit player which serves as rallying cry in order that Islam can reverse its losses since the end of the 17th Century and resume its status as world power.

I guess my question to you is: how can we begin to understand Ahmadinejad's speech's meaning in the Islamist movement without examining Islam and its history and culture? I think it is not possible and I think the effort to find "root causes" without first understand the views of those involved is anti-intellectual and anti-historical. And, even worse, what such approach amounts to is an attempt to pursue causes of interest to some in the West without caring one iota about those affected, namely, Israelis, Arabs and Muslims, and what they desire.




James H Dalrymple - 11/1/2005

True.

In my view it is totally pointless to talk of Muslim violence without talking about oil, Israel, dictatorship and globalization as well as religion.

For a minute the article had me sufficiently startled about the immanent collapse of Danish liberty until I remembered that I know the country well, having lived there. I have visited friends there recently and I know they are under no great threat from Muslims. The article is classic scaremongering.

When trying to surmise why some other society or country has become violent it is helpful to look at ones own reaction to events. I’m sure you would agree that after 9/11 opinions in America hardened not only towards the individuals that committed the atrocities but also towards the societies from which they came. Some of the reaction could be said to be extreme and there was a call for violent retaliation. These reactions are normal human reactions and if a 9/11 atrocity happened regularly the call for violent retaliation would rise exponentially.

I don’t agree with Muslims, I’m an atheist after all, and I certainly don’t want to live in an intolerant Muslim country (unless there’s lots of money to be made of course) but I’m also afraid of the direction our countries are going in.


Firas Ahmad - 11/1/2005

Dear Mr. Kovachev:

We needn't honour or insult Islam with too much attention beyond the operational necessity of keeping a jaundiced eye on the mass of its adherents who, for one reason or another, appear to be the main source of danger to democracies today (not to mention weak populations of non-Mulsims or "bad" Muslims).

Does it really "appear" to be the greatest threat to democracy? Or rather, is that the most facile and presumptively popular way of understanding world events these days. Would al-Qaeda have even been possible had it not been for the Cold War machinations that took place in Afghanistan? Or the deal with the devil pact signed between Saudi and the US to send these "mujahids" overseas? What about the failed states in Africa that will in 20 years or so be the next breeding ground for terrorists - whether they be islamist, marxist or nationalist? What about the fact that our free democratic world just 10 years ago stood around and watchd as close to 1,000,000 Rwandans were hacked to death - presumptively because itervention as not "worth it." What about the excessively oppressive regimes of central asia supported and paid for by oil companies chomping at the bit to make as much money as quickly as possible? What about the fact that 20% of the world's population cosumes 86% of its resources? What about 3 billion people living on less than $2 per day? Are any of these things a threat to our Democracy? Do they have anything to do with terrorism?


Oh right, those Muslims need to get their acts togther, or else they will ruin democracy for all of us.

Do Muslims need to clean house? Absolutely. But as long as you and people like yourself (many of whom occupy important policy positions ) misunderstand this to be a purely "Muslim" problem, the longer we will remain in such a predicament.

So Mr. Kovachev, continue and forge ahead, but make sure your blinders are firmly in place. And if there is a problem, rest assured its probably a Muslim's fault.

on another note:
I happen to believe that all religions are fundamentally good - and that any religion that preaches hatred or violence is ultimately unsustainable. The fact that Christianity has close to 2 billion adherents, Islam is close to 1.5 and Hinduism around 1 billion means to me that there are essential truths in their message, or else humanity (being good in its nature) would reject them.


Peter Kovachev - 11/1/2005

"The scholars have spoken, condemnations have been made. Islam does not stand for terror. Who is doing the terrorizing? And why are they terrorizing if the scholarly consensus is that terrorism is not permissible?" (Firas Ahmad)

That is quite amusing, Mr. Ahmad, almost as much as your professor Murad's lengthy pseudo-scholarly pastiche...although he wins thanks to only to word count. Whereas you've single-handedly invested the Amman Initiative with the authority of defining and directing Islam (a hereto unnoticed and Muslim College of Cardinals?), Murad provides more bang for our buck with his cobbled pastiche of Western and world history that miracolously manages to peddle the same old shlock: It's everyone else's fault. The "depth of scholarship" where he drops his predictable conclusions, admonitions and the old 'zactly-likes consists of selectively dipping his ladle into a goulash of historical and literary factoids to fish out such morsels like the Bible, Churchill, Jabotinsky, Japanese kamikaze pilots, medieval Jewish martyrs and Hindu and Buddhist self-imolators. Breath-taking, we're supposed to say. Incidentally, neither your posts, nor professor Murad's garble are of much relevance to the core issues in Ms. Klinghoffer's essay.

Where I agree with you is that it would be unfair and probably useless to single out the nebulous body of Islam as the enemy. Regardless of its history and current behaviour patterns, it's a slippery moral and theological slope we needn't approach to get anything accomplished. We needn't honour or insult Islam with too much attention beyond the operational necessity of keeping a jaundiced eye on the mass of its adherents who, for one reason or another, appear to be the main source of danger to democracies today (not to mention weak populations of non-Mulsims or "bad" Muslims). The only Islamic scholars or movements of concern to us right now should be those who propagate and tolerate murder and oppression and who establish governments, laws, institutions, schools, training camps and money-channels for jihadism. In the current crisis, it's not the job of non-Muslims to try to understand Islam, to politely listen to its scholars and to weep over our supposed mutual responsibilities about this sinful Vale of Tears. Our immediate job is to make the terror war against democracies and the defenseless so costly to its proponents, supporters and sympathisers as to either decisively turn them away from it or to effectively disable them. This is an achievable goal and for this we need resolve and plenty of "dry gunpowder," not abstract postures of "wars against terror" or apocalyptic "wars against Islam."


N. Friedman - 11/1/2005

Whether or not what Americans, et al., are doing is or is not disgusting or wonderful, the issue of what Muslims are doing is still very important. Such is important to the extent of being entitled to separate consideration - on its own merits and not merely as a reflection of ourselves - in order to determine what is happening and why.

So, by changing the topic, you merely deflecting attention from the sorts of issues raised by Ms. Klinghoffer. And, such issues really do appear to be important.


James H Dalrymple - 11/1/2005

I agree that Islam is very intolerant but I also think that America is in a very hypocritical stage in its history. Most people think the American national philosophy of equality, justice and freedom to be very attractive, when America upholds these ideals I am a supporter of America and when America opposes these ideals I am an anti-American.

It seems to me that America is failing itself and in order to protect the ideal of being a just people (in a time of detention without trial and torture) it’s people seek solace in the misdeeds of others (we might be bad but we’re not as bad as them) as when Rumsfeld after the abu ghraib disgrace said its not as bad as beheading people. This attitude is surely a race to the bottom. Take the log out of your own eye before trying to take the spec out of your brothers eye comes to mind.

America has brought torture, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, innumerable acts of random death, misery and degradation to the Iraqi people and call it " bringing freedom and democracy to the Middle East".

Where is the sane moderate peace loving Christian world?


Atanu Dey - 11/1/2005

If Islamic terrorism is a creation of Western policies, can someone tell me which Western policies prompted the slaughter of tens of millions of Hindus in India for centuries?

It is ignorance of the true depth and extent of Islamic destruction of peaceful populations down the centuries that makes people behave as it Islamic terrorism began one September morning in 2001.


Ivan Denisovich - 11/1/2005

Another problem that does not make Islam
appear well is that it's not Christians that are becoming Islamic extremists, it's not Buddhists that are becoming Islamic extremists, it's not Hindus, Voodoos, Jews, Amish, Atheists, or any other members of other religious faiths (or non-faiths) that are becoming Islamic extremist/fundementalists.

It's Muslims that are recruited into this fanatacism that is alarming, and is taking it's toll on Islams PR with the Public of Western Countries (except France)

No other religious extremeists are recruiting their followers to commit horrid atrocities against innocent people like Islamic extremists are doing.

So the question is:

Why are Muslims so susceptable to extremists jargon by Imams and led into the cult of death/martyrdom when so many other extremists of other faiths have not been able to achieve the level of success of the recruitment of followers of the faith? No doubt there are Extremists Hindus, Christians, Jews, Buddhists, but for some reason (and if Mr. Ahmad could attempt to explain) the success of Muslims being led into extemism has got to be far higher and more successful than other religious priests/ faiths being recruiting their members to extremism.

Is there any explanation why? It seems Islam is able to produce far higher output of extemists than anyother religion. If one looks at the past 30 years of history, especially with the advent of land based Jet propelled passenger planes.


N. Friedman - 11/1/2005

Firas,

Corrected:

I just finished reading The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus (3rd Revised Edition) by renowned scholar Vahakn N. Dadrian. Mr. Dadrian, while not placing all blame on Islam for what happened to the Armenians, does place quite a bit of the blame. And what he says does seem to have considerable consequence more generally with respect to the Islamic regions' relationship with non-Muslim regions.

I quote at some length, pages 3 to 5 of the noted book. As printed, some of the non-English characters transliterating the Turkish may not accurately reproduce. Also, I have not used italics as appears in the original. Note that Dadrian uses, for the most part, Turkish rather than the Arabic terminology (e.g. cihad rather than jihad) when he discusses Islam and the laws governing the interaction between Islam and tolerated infidels. Lastly, I noted the omission of footnotes in brackets; other brackets are in the original.

After reading below what Dadrian write, I would ask that you respond to this question: how might a serious scholar come to view Islam as he does? In this I note that quite a number of scholars - not just Armenians and Eastern Christians from Greece and the Balkans - view the matter somewhat as Dadrian does so I am not looking for psychology. I am looking for a critique of his scholarship.

Below is all quoted:

As a first step toward a full analysis of the nationality conflicts, it is necessary to examine Islam as a major determinant in the genesis and escalation of these conflicts. The precepts and infallible dogmas of Islam, as interpreted and applied within the framework of a theocratic Ottoman state organization, encompassing a congeries of non-Islamic nationalities, proved to be enduring sources of division in the relationship between the dominant Muslims and the latter. In many ways that conflict was a replica and an extension of conflicts plaguing the relationship of the various nationalities in the Balkans with the Turks who, as conquerors, played the role of overlords towards these subjects over a long period of time. In this sense, it may be observed that Islam not only functioned as a source of unending nationality conflicts both in the Balkans and Turkish Armenia, but it also functioned as a nexus of the correlative Eastern and Armenian questions, through the explosion of which the issues of creed and religious affiliation for decades were catapulted into the forefront of international conflicts.

Although Islam is a religious creed, it is also a way of life for its followers, transcending the boundaries of faith to permeate the social and political fabric of a nation. Islam's bent for divisiveness, exclusivity, and superiority, which overwhelms its nominal tolerance of other religions, is therefore vital to an understanding of a Muslim-dominated, multi-ethnic system such as Ottoman Turkey.

The Islamic character of Ottoman theocracy was a fundamental factor in the Ottoman state's legal organization. The Sultan, who exercised supreme political power, also carried the title of Khalif (meaning Successor to Mohammed, and a vicar of supreme authority) and thereby served as the supreme protector of Islam. Thus, the Sultan-Khalif was entrusted with the duty of protecting the canon law of Islam, called the Şeriat, meaning revelation (of the laws of God as articulated by the prophet Mohammed). The Şeriat comprised not only religious precepts, but a fixed and infallible doctrine of a juridical and political nature whose prescriptions and proscriptions were restricted to the territorial jurisdiction of the State.

The Islamic doctrines embraced by the Ottoman state circumscribed the status of non-Muslims within its jurisdiction. The Ottoman system was not merely a theocracy but a subjugative political organization based on the principle of fixed superordination and subordination governing the legal relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, and entailing social and political disabilities for the latter. [footnote omitted]. The Koran, the centerpiece of the Şeriat, embodies some 260 verses, most of them uttered by Mohammed in Mecca, enjoining the faithful to wage cihad, holy war, against the "disbelievers," e.g., those who do not profess the "true faith" (hakk din), and to "massacre" (kital) them. [footnote omitted]. Moreover, the verse "Let there be no coercion in religion" [footnote omitted] is superseded and thus cancelled (mensuh) by Mohammed's command to "wage war against the unbelievers and be severe unto them." [footnote omitted]. The verse that has specific relevance for the religious determination of the legal and political status of non-Muslims whose lands have been conquered by the invading Islamic warriors has this command: "Fight against them who do not follow the religion of truth until they pay tribute [ciziye] by right of subjection, and they be reduced low." [footnote omitted]. This stipulation is the fundamental prerequisite to ending warfare and introducing terms of clemency.

The Ottoman Empire's Islamic doctrines and traditions, reinforced by the martial institutions of the State, resulted in the emergence of principles of common law which held sway throughout the history of the Ottoman socio-political system. The Sultan-Khalif's newly incorporated non-Muslim subjects were required to enter into a quasi-legal contract, the Akdi Zimmet, whereby the ruler guaranteed the "safeguard" (ismet) of their persons, their civil and religious liberties, and, conditionally, their properties, in exchange for the payment of poll and land taxes, and acquiescence to a set of social and legal disabilities. These contracts marked the initiation of a customary law in the Ottoman system that regulated the unequal relations between Muslims and non-Muslims. Ottoman common law thus created the status of "tolerated infidels [relegated to] a caste inferior to that of their fellow Moslem subjects." [footnote omitted]. The Turkish scholar N. Berkes further pointed out that the intractability of this status was a condition of the Şeriat, which "could not admit of [non-Muslim] equality in matters over which it ruled. [Even the subsequent secular laws based on] the concept of the Kanun (law) did not imply legal equality among Muslims and non-Muslims." [footnote omitted].

This principle of Ottoman common law created a political dichotomy of superordinate and subordinate status. The Muslims, belonging to the umma, the politically organized community of believers, were entitled to remain the nation of overlords. Non-Muslims were relegated to the status of tolerated infidels. These twin categories helped perpetuate the divisions between the two religious communities, thereby embedding conflict into the societal structure. Moreover, the split transcended the political power struggle occurring in Ottoman Turkey during this time period. Even when the Young Turk Ittihadists succeeded Sultan Abdul Hamit into power in 1908, they reaffirmed the principle of the ruling nation (milleti hâkime). While promising liberty, justice, and equality for all Ottoman subjects, they vowed to preserve the superordinate-subordinate dichotomy. That vow was publicly proclaimed through Tanin, the quasi-official publication of the Ittihad party. Hüseyn Cahid, its editor, declared in an editorial that irrespective of the final outcome of the nationality conflict in Turkey, "the Turkish nation is and will remain the ruling nation." [footnote omitted]


N. Friedman - 11/1/2005

Firas,

I just finished reading The History of the Armenian Genocide: Ethnic Conflict from the Balkans to Anatolia to the Caucasus (3rd Revised Edition) by renowned scholar Vahakn N. Dadrian. Mr. Dadrian, while not placing all blame on Islam for what happened to the Armenians, does place quite a bit of the blame. And what he says does seem to have considerable consequence more generally with respect to the Islamic regions' relationship with non-Muslim regions.

I quote at some length, pages 3 to 5 of the noted book. As printed, some of the non-English characters transliterating the Turkish may not accurately reproduce. Also, I have not used italics as appears in the original. Note that Dadrian uses, for the most part, Turkish rather than the Arabic terminology (e.g. cihad rather than jihad) when he discusses Islam and the laws governing the interaction between Islam and tolerated infidels. Lastly, I noted the omission of footnotes in brackets; other brackets are in the original.

After reading below what Dadrian write, I would ask that you respond to this question: how might a serious scholar come to view Islam as he does? In this I note that quite a number of scholars - not just Armenians and Eastern Christians from Greece and the Balkans - view the matter somewhat as Dadrian does so I am not looking for psychology. I am looking for a critique of his scholarship.

As a first step toward a full analysis of the nationality conflicts, it is necessary to examine Islam as a major determinant in the genesis and escalation of these conflicts. The precepts and infallible dogmas of Islam, as interpreted and applied within the framework of a theocratic Ottoman state organization, encompassing a congeries of non-Islamic nationalities, proved to be enduring sources of division in the relationship between the dominant Muslims and the latter. In many ways that conflict was a replica and an extension of conflicts plaguing the relationship of the various nationalities in the Balkans with the Turks who, as conquerors, played the role of overlords towards these subjects over a long period of time. In this sense, it may be observed that Islam not only functioned as a source of unending nationality conflicts both in the Balkans and Turkish Armenia, but it also functioned as a nexus of the correlative Eastern and Armenian questions, through the explosion of which the issues of creed and religious affiliation for decades were catapulted into the forefront of international conflicts.

Although Islam is a religious creed, it is also a way of life for its followers, transcending the boundaries of faith to permeate the social and political fabric of a nation. Islam's bent for divisiveness, exclusivity, and superiority, which overwhelms its nominal tolerance of other religions, is therefore vital to an understanding of a Muslim-dominated, multi-ethnic system such as Ottoman Turkey.

The Islamic character of Ottoman theocracy was a fundamental factor in the Ottoman state's legal organization. The Sultan, who exercised supreme political power, also carried the title of Khalif (meaning Successor to Mohammed, and a vicar of supreme authority) and thereby served as the supreme protector of Islam. Thus, the Sultan-Khalif was entrusted with the duty of protecting the canon law of Islam, called the Şeriat, meaning revelation (of the laws of God as articulated by the prophet Mohammed). The Şeriat comprised not only religious precepts, but a fixed and infallible doctrine of a juridical and political nature whose prescriptions and proscriptions were restricted to the territorial jurisdiction of the State.

The Islamic doctrines embraced by the Ottoman state circumscribed the status of non-Muslims within its jurisdiction. The Ottoman system was not merely a theocracy but a subjugative political organization based on the principle of fixed superordination and subordination governing the legal relations between Muslims and non-Muslims, and entailing social and political disabilities for the latter. [footnote omitted]. The Koran, the centerpiece of the Şeriat, embodies some 260 verses, most of them uttered by Mohammed in Mecca, enjoining the faithful to wage cihad, holy war, against the "disbelievers," e.g., those who do not profess the "true faith" (hakk din), and to "massacre" (kital) them. [footnote omitted]. Moreover, the verse "Let there be no coercion in religion" [footnote omitted] is superseded and thus cancelled (mensuh) by Mohammed's command to "wage war against the unbelievers and be severe unto them." [footnote omitted]. The verse that has specific relevance for the religious determination of the legal and political status of non-Muslims whose lands have been conquered by the invading Islamic warriors has this command: "Fight against them who do not follow the religion of truth until they pay tribute [ciziye] by right of subjection, and they be reduced low." [footnote omitted]. This stipulation is the fundamental prerequisite to ending warfare and introducing terms of clemency.

The Ottoman Empire's Islamic doctrines and traditions, reinforced by the martial institutions of the State, resulted in the emergence of principles of common law which held sway throughout the history of the Ottoman socio-political system. The Sultan-Khalif's newly incorporated non-Muslim subjects were required to enter into a quasi-legal contract, the Akdi Zimmet, whereby the ruler guaranteed the "safeguard" (ismet) of their persons, their civil and religious liberties, and, conditionally, their properties, in exchange for the payment of poll and land taxes, and acquiescence to a set of social and legal disabilities. These contracts marked the initiation of a customary law in the Ottoman system that regulated the unequal relations between Muslims and non-Muslims. Ottoman common law thus created the status of "tolerated infidels [relegated to] a caste inferior to that of their fellow Moslem subjects." [footnote omitted]. The Turkish scholar N. Berkes further pointed out that the intractability of this status was a condition of the Şeriat, which "could not admit of [non-Muslim] equality in matters over which it ruled. [Even the subsequent secular laws based on] the concept of the Kanun (law) did not imply legal equality among Muslims and non-Muslims." [footnote omitted].

This principle of Ottoman common law created a political dichotomy of superordinate and subordinate status. The Muslims, belonging to the umma, the politically organized community of believers, were entitled to remain the nation of overlords. Non-Muslims were relegated to the status of tolerated infidels. These twin categories helped perpetuate the divisions between the two religious communities, thereby embedding conflict into the societal structure. Moreover, the split transcended the political power struggle occurring in Ottoman Turkey during this time period. Even when the Young Turk Ittihadists succeeded Sultan Abdul Hamit into power in 1908, they reaffirmed the principle of the ruling nation (milleti hâkime). While promising liberty, justice, and equality for all Ottoman subjects, they vowed to preserve the superordinate-subordinate dichotomy. That vow was publicly proclaimed through Tanin, the quasi-official publication of the Ittihad party. Hüseyn Cahid, its editor, declared in an editorial that irrespective of the final outcome of the nationality conflict in Turkey, "the Turkish nation is and will remain the ruling nation." [footnote omitted]



Firas Ahmad - 11/1/2005

Dear Mr. Lynch,

Lets do a thought experiment. Say that Islam is the problem, and that if only Muslims could develop a tradition that abhors violence and embraces peace the whole world would be saved. (presumably what you would mean by reform) If this were the case, then I should be able to pick up the phone, call Ayman Zawhiri, OBL and the rest of these thugs and explain to them that Islam actually means peace, and that what they are doing is actually in absolute opposition to what the religion stands for.

In which case the recent Amman Initiative, where over 170 scholars representing the 7 major schools of Islamic thought all collectively repudiated any religious legitimacy or authority assumed by the likes of OBL and his friends, should have solved all our problems.

That group of major scholars represents the vast majority of muslim relgious institutions in the world. I would say atleast 90 - 95% of all Muslims follow one of these traditional schools of legal thought. This is in addition to the Fiqh Council of N America's fatwa against terror:
http://news.baou.com/main.php?action=recent&;rid=20375

So we should all be saved... there should be no more terror.

(on a side not, we dont often hear of the magnitude of condemnations like this because the media never really picks them up, we are much more likely to hear Zarqawis latest rant than anything with regards to condemnations)

So then why do we still see suicide bombings? The scholars have spoken, condemnations have been made. Islam does not stand for terror. Who is doing the terrorizing? And why are they terrorizing if the scholarly consensus is that terrorism is not permissible?

If we continue the thought experiment, then the only logical conclusion is that these terrorists are not acting from within Islamic tradition. Or else their ideology would not be sustainable, as tradition has rejected their rhetoric in no uncertain terms.

If we agree this is the case then we have to entertain the possibility that those who are terrorizing in the name of Islam are doing so from resources outside the religion, and any succesful means of rejecting and destroying such an ideology must realize this fact, lest it expend energy on much more wasteful measures.

Which leads me to your question:

>So the question, the elephant in the parlor is this: when is Islam going to modernize and recognize that all people are equal, all religions share a central purpose to quell xenophobic tendencies among believers, that tribalism is in its death throes, and that all nations and peoples need to embrace freedom, liberty, self-determination, open education, competitive economies, and scientific progress? When?

For the answer to this question I would refer you to an article written by Abdal Hakim Murad, a professor at Oxford University. I have placed a pdf version on the website at:

http://www.islamicamagazine.com/images/originsterror.pdf

its a long article, but I believe well worth the read. When you say modernize, modernity is exactly what bin laden and his groups subscribe to.

so as to your question regarding whether or not Muslim and non-Muslims can live together peacefully, I would say OF COURSE they can. Islamic civilization has proven itself to be for the most part quite tolerant and fair to other faith traditions (some exception notwithstanding), clearly moreso than Christianity can claim. Even if we look at Islam historically, over the long haul Muslims never made a habit of dealing with other groups with enmity or hatred. The fact that Syria continues to have a significant Christian population even though Islam spread there more than 1300 years ago should be a proof of this. Infact in the Ummayad mosque in Damascus the Tomb of John the Baptist remains as a devotional site for Muslim and Christian alike.

I would advise against the Daniel Pipes kind of Islamic reformation, as this completely misunderstands the source of terror within the Islamic world. It would likely play into the hands of extremists and serve to radicalize as oppose to moderate Muslim populations.

Finally I would also like to point out that if one travels to Kuala Lumpur one will find millions of Muslims completely comfortable with a modern multi-ethnic, technologically advanced society who continue to pray, fast and hold to their traditional Islamic values. If you ask any of them how they can possibly reconcile their Islamic and modern identity they would probably look at you as if you have two heads.

best regards,

Firas





regards,

Firas


Rick Myers - 11/1/2005

Mr Murphy, answer this question...

Which nation did the United States go to war with first. And no, it wasn't Britain.

I'll give you a hint. Hum the Marine anthem for me, then repeat these lines "From the halls of Montezuma, to the shores of Tripoli".

The first nation the US was attacked by (the revolution doesn't count, we were not a nation yet) was a muslim nation decalaring Jihad against the US. When the US was a colony of Britain, they left us alone for fear of "Big Red". When we were on our own, fair game. This lead to a series of wars known today as the Tripolitan Wars.

In every one, Muslims attacked the US citing precedents found in the Koran. In every war, they got their collective butts handed to them, though there were extremely high-drama moments, such as the capture of the Philadelphia.

Look around the world today... can you name a place where Christians are fighting against any other religion besides Islam? How about Hindus... are they fighting the buddhists? or Shintos?

In every country that has a significant population of Muslims, and I mean *EVERY* country, there is some type of conflict going on.

The Islamists are counting on you Mr Murphy, they need you to apologize for them. Without you, the rightous masses might get fed up with their crap, and send them back to their own countries of origin.

There is no shame in it. Muslims have had little to *nothing* to do with the founding of this country, though lefties have tried to say otherwise.

For instance, there is a reference to a navigator of Columbus who spoke arabic. Some lefties, and most muslims assume that it means he was also a muslim, but that is hardly possible.

1492 was the time of the expulsion of the moors from Grenada, and the possibility of a muslim being on board a ship bearing christianity to the new world is nill. This navigator was a translator, since from Columbus's own writings, he envisioned finding either muslims (arab speakers) or Indians (hence, the west indies) when he made land-fall. Bringing an arabic speaking navigator was good thinking in a time of bad directions.

Anyways, the US history in the ME is spotty, but if anything I'd say that the ME has suffered not from too much involvement by the US, but too little. And way too much from the Euros.

Oh, and I'm agnostic, and generally anti-religion of all sides, except I clearly understand that there are not Buddhists, or Christians, or Hindus out there plotting to kill people like me. However, there are muslims doing just that.

And Islamophobia is not a word, nor is it real. Islam must reform, or ultimately be left in the dark ages.

~Cheers


Peter Kovachev - 10/31/2005

Thanks for the score, Mr. Murphy, I was getting worried there, what with my bets riding on the Crusaders' side.

And of course, you're right, it's all us again. Those dears can't do anything by themselves...we even had to create them! How do you bear the cross of your White Man's Burden day in and day out?


dave murphy - 10/31/2005

Many more Muslims have been slaughtered by christians than vice versa. America has killed more people of many races than any muslims have managed to kill americans.

Islamic terrorism is largely a creation of western policies - basically those in palestine; those in the oil rich parts of arabia; those in afghanistan.

We have created the monster and we don't know now how to slay it.


Peter Kovachev - 10/31/2005


Mr. Ahmad,

You say that the critical question here is why some Muslims advocate violence and you ponder over the supposedly mysterious source of terrorism.

But for this "critical question" and alleged mystery we don't need to get into obscurantist philosophies, metaphysics or winks and nudges. By now we know quite a bit about the the various ideologies and ideologists behind terrorism, who the terrorists and their leaders are, who funds and trains them, and which nation states and religious groups propagate, support or tolerate them. These are the most obvious, material and decisive reasons and sources.

Whether there is a co-relation between terrorism and modern Islam, or whether it's all a pure coincidence may even be entirely academic for now. Terrorism must be fought aggressively on the battlefield and the political arenas first. The non-Muslim world and especially secular egalitarian democracies need not even address the issue of Islam directly. A firm stance against any and all coersive ideologies and displays of intolerance, and a firm and consistent rejection of special status demands are sufficient. The critical question, then, is whether modern Islam has the ability to adapt to these emerging realities or whether it will again implode and splinter by destroying its own societies and economies. Given the current indicators, I'd say a lot more than a few articles and vague official declarations will be needed to prevent the latter.


Maine Michael - 10/31/2005

"If the assumption is that Islam in its true form does NOT advocate violence, then the source of the problem must lie elsewhere. Why dont we talk about this source also?"

I don't know where you get the idea that there is an assumption that Islam in its 'true form' does NOT advocate violence.

Surely it makes more aense to ASSUME that the top Imams at Al-Azhar University, and those presiding over Mecca and Medina practice the 'true islam'.

The problem is Islam, and the lack of a critical mass of muslims who demand enlightenment/reform of their religion, and the half dozen islamic luminaries you cite are easily outweighed by the dozens who speak out in favor of atrocities.

By focusing on the few good guys, and saying 'Here they are, now, what about the root causes?" you become simply another 'root causes' apologist, for whom cartoons of mohammed are more horrifying than women and children blown to bits.


Ms. Klinghoffer,

Good piece. The only thing I take issue with is your use of the 'goose and gander' phrase.

Muslims do not seem to consider themselves euals of the rest, deserving of no more and no less consideration than theri non-islamic co-citizens. They consider themselves and their requirements of greater importance, and this in fact explains the apparent asymetry between their tolerance for terrorist attacks on non-islamics and their intolereance of freedom of speech when it results in, say, cartoons they might find offensive.

From their perspective, the two events lie in completetly different universes. The terrorist attacks upon infidels are a good thing, bringing the dar al islam one day closer, whereas the lampooning of Mohammed psychologically delays it, as it is a reminder of the dissonance of living in a non-islamic land.








Robert Lynch - 10/31/2005

Firas Ahmad, you make some good points. But it sounds very much like you're also reverting to the most insidious pasttime of the Arab world - to "metaquestion" or wax philosophically not about the topic at hand, but whether the discussion itself is satisfactory, and whether the existence of other discussions releases the obvious focus (Islam) from culpability.

And that, good man, is Sophistry at the highest order.

Let us get this straight: there has been a palpable, obvious and rankly odiferous lack of significant reaction by the Imams, Pundits, Politicos and Philosophers of the Islamic faith over the events listed in Ms. Klinghoffer's essay. When not just a half dozen, but hundreds or yes thousands of pandynes are penned by the Islamic world decrying the senseless violence initiated by the Palestinians, the comic-if-it-weren't-so-horrible bigotry expressed by the Prez'o'Iran, the daily litany of eccentric rabble-rousing articles in al Jezira, then I would say that your comments are accurate and balanced.

But they are not.

The Islamic world, rather like a bunch of tribal warriors, has barracaded itself against critique for the intransigencies committed by "its brothers". Jihad's pro-civiilisational core - personal engagement and doing good in the name of Allah - has been commandeered by a dangerously Luddite and anti-civilisational interpretation, calling for violence, conversion, the Caliphate and more. So afraid and fragile are the puppetocracies of their rabble, that they mouth the same - often pro-jihad in Arabic, anti-jihad in English ... to keep the constituency at bay.

So the question, the elephant in the parlor is this: when is Islam going to modernize and recognize that all people are equal, all religions share a central purpose to quell xenophobic tendencies among believers, that tribalism is in its death throes, and that all nations and peoples need to embrace freedom, liberty, self-determination, open education, competitive economies, and scientific progress? When?

Let me ask directly, honorable Firas Ahmad: can you see a future of profitable, vivacious coexistence between muslims and non-muslims? I can imagine it as easily as the coexistence between Puritans, Mormons, Baptists, Catholics, Buddhists, Daoists and Sikhs. What say?

GoatGuy


Firas Ahmad - 10/31/2005

Condemnation is an important thing, and in addition to the article you cited from Islamica Magazine, the Magazine has also produced no less than a dozen seperate peices over the past several months unequivocally condemning extremism and terrorism in all its manifestations or forms:

The Amman Initiative
Author S. Abdullah Schleifer
A Theological Counter-Attack Against Terrorism: The International Islamic Conference held in Amman recently was a historic event and a step in the right direction towards tackling the problem of radicalism.

http://www.islamicamagazine.com/ViewCompleteArticle.aspx?ArticleCd=184


The Trouble with Rage
Author Suhaib Webb
The actions of those who committed the London bombing have rocketed past the tradition and values of Islam.
http://www.islamicamagazine.com/ViewCompleteArticle.aspx?ArticleCd=183



Unimaginable To Me
Author Daniel Abdal Hayy Moore
The mind of a suicide bomber
http://www.islamicamagazine.com/ViewCompleteArticle.aspx?ArticleCd=182


In addition in our Spring 2005 issue we had a series of 5 articles from leading voices in the Muslim world including Prince Hassan of Jordan, Harun Yayha of Turkey and Abdal Hakim Murad of Oxford that addressed and demonstrated Islam's utter opposition to terrorism.
http://www.islamicamagazine.com/IssueDetails.aspx?IssueCD=78&;type=Archives

There are clearly Muslims who advocate violence, but the critical question is why they do so. Is it enough to condemn them and distance them from the religion? Islam has been ideologized by some Muslims in order to justify atrocious acts terror. We can and should condemn them, but what next?

If the assumption is that Islam in its true form does NOT advocate violence, then the source of the problem must lie elsewhere. Why dont we talk about this source also? and if I do talk about it, does that make me an apologist for terror? If thats the case then this problem will never be solved. If we cannot talk about changing the conditions that breed terrorist mentalities then what is the point?

But of course its always easier, and generally more acceptable these days, to scapegoat religion.

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